Skip to main content

Full text of "Travels in Italy, France, and Switzerland"

See other formats


q)ouid©.JAc < eKaBS&bMWj g 




M 



Presented by: John Minf^P 7l3^| 
In memory of: J. F. 3 14U^ 





rT*"""\V ^ 



11 



DATE DUE 



oc i n)m 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/travelsinitalyfrOOgoet 



GOETHE'S POPULAR WORKS. 

THE CAMBRIDGE EDITION. 
Edited and Revised by Dr. F. H. Hedge and Prof. L. Noa. 



T RAVELS 



IN 



ITALY, FRANCE, AND SWITZERLAND. 



TRANSLATED BY R. D. BOYLAN. 



BOSTON: 

ESTES AND LAURIAT, 

301-305 Washington Street. 

I883. 



Copyright, 1882, 
By S. E. Cassino. 



PRESS OF CEO. H. ELLIS, 141 FRANKLIN STREET, BOSTON. 



CONTENTS. 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

PAGE 

First Part 7 

Second Part 18 



TRAVELS IN ITALY. 

From Carlsbad to the Brenner 71 

From the Brenner to Verona 84 

From Verona to Venice 99 

Venice 120 

From Ferrara to Rome 152 

Rome 176 

Naples 227 

Sicily 269 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 



LETTEES FBOM SWITZEELAND. 



When, a few years ago, the copies of the following letters 
were first made known to ns, it was asserted that they had 
been found among Werther's papers ; and it was pretended, 
that, before his acquaintance with Charlotte, he had been in 
Switzerland. We have never seen the originals : however, 
we would not on any account anticipate the judgment and 
feelings of our readers ; for, whatever may be their true 
history, it is impossible to read them without sympathy. 



PART THE FIRST. 

How do all my descriptions disgust me, when I read them 
over ! Nothing but your advice, your command, your injunc- 
tion, could have induced me to attempt any thing of the kind. 
How many descriptions, too, of these scenes, had I not read 
before I saw them ! Did these, then, afford me an image of 
them, or, at best, but a mere vague notion? In vain did 
my imagination attempt to bring the objects before it : in 
vain did my mind try to revolve from them some thoughts. 
Here I now stand contemplating these wonders ; and what 
are my feelings in the midst of them ! I can think of noth- 
ing, I can feel nothing ; and how willingly would I both 
think and feel ! The glorious scene before me excites my 
soul to its inmost depths, and impels me to be doing ; and 
yet what can I do — what do I ? I now sit down and scrib- 
ble and describe. Away with you, ye descriptions ! Delude 
my friend, make him believe that I am doing something, — 
that he sees and reads something. 

Were, then, these Switzers free? — free, these opulent 
burghers in their little pent-up towns? — free, those poor 

7 



8 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

devils on their rocks and crags? What is it that man can- 
not be made to believe, especially when he cherishes in his 
heart the memory of some old tale of marvel? Once, for- 
sooth, they did break a tyrant's yoke, and might, for the 
moment, fancy themselves free ; but out of the carcass of 
the single oppressor the good sun, by a strange new birth, 
has hatched a swarm of petty tyrants. And so, now, they 
are ever telling that old tale of marvel : one hears it till one 
is sick of it. They formerly made themselves free, and 
have ever since remained free ; and now they sit behind 
their walls, hugging themselves with their customs and laws 
— their philandering and philistering. And there, too, on 
the rocks, it is surely fine to talk of liberty, when for six 
months of the year, they, like the marmot, are bound hand 
and foot by the snow. 

Alas ! how wretched must any work of man look in the 
midst of this great and glorious Nature, but especially such 
sorry, poverty-stricken works as these black and dirty little 
towns, such mean heaps of stones and rubbish ! Large 
rubble and other stones on the roofs, too, that the miserable 
thatch may not be carried off from the top of them ; and 
then the filth, the dung, and the gaping idiots ! When here 
you meet with man and the wretched work of his hands, you 
are glad to run away immediately from both. 

That there are in man very many intellectual capacities 
which in this life he is unable to develop, which, therefore, 
point to a better future and to a more harmonious state of 
existence, — on this point we are both agreed. But, further 
than this, I cannot give up that other fancy of mine, even 
though, on account of it, you may again call me, as } T ou have 
so often done already, a mere enthusiast. For my part, I do 
think that man feels conscious, also, of corporeal qualities 
of whose mature expansion he can have no hope in this life. 
This, most assuredly, is the case with flying. How strong- 
ly, at one time, used the clouds, as they drove along the blue 
sky, to tempt me to travel with them to foreign lands ! and 
now in what danger do I stand, lest they should carry 
me away with them from the mountain-peak as they sweep 
violently by ! What desire I feel to throw myself into the 
boundless regions of the air, to poise over the terrific 
abyss, or to alight on some otherwise inaccessible rock ! 
With what a longing do I draw deeper and deeper breath, 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 9 

when, in the dark blue depth below me, the eagle soars over 
rocks and forests, or, in company and in sweet concord with 
his mate, wheels in wide circles round the eyry to which he 
has intrusted his young ! Must I, then, never do more than 
creep up to the summits? Must I always go on clinging to 
the highest rocks, as well as to the lowest plain? and when 
I have at last, with much toil, reached the desired eminence, 
must I still anxiously grasp at every holding-place, shudder 
at the thought of return, and tremble at the chance of a 
fall? 

With what wonderful properties we are born ! What 
vague aspirations rise within us ! How rarely do imagina- 
tion and our bodily powers work in opposition ! Peculiari- 
ties of my early boyhood again recur. While I am walking, 
and have a long road before me, my arms go dangling by 
my side ; I at times make a grasp, as if I would seize a 
javelin, and hurl it, I know not at whom or what ; and then 
I fancy an arrow is shot at me which pierces me to the 
heart : I strike my hand upon my breast, and feel an inex- 
pressible sweetness ; and then after this I soon revert to my 
natural state. Whence comes this strange phenomenon? 
what is the meaning of it? and why does it invariably recur 
under the same figures, in the same bodily movement, and 
with the same sensation ? 

I am repeatedly told that the people who have met me on 
my journey are little satisfied with me. I can readily 
believe it, for neither has any one of them contributed to 
my satisfaction. I cannot tell how it comes to pass that 
society oppresses me, that the forms of politeness are dis- 
agreeable to me, that what people talk about does not 
interest me, that all they show to me is either quite indif- 
ferent, or else produces an impression quite opposite to what 
they expect. When I am shown a drawing or painting of 
any beautiful spot, immediately a feeling of disquiet arises 
within me which is utterly inexpressible. My toes within 
my shoes begin to bend, as if they would clutch the ground : 
a cramp-like motion runs through my lingers,. I lute my 
lips, and hasten to leave the company I am in, and throw 
myself down, in the presence of the majesty of nature, on 
the first seat, however inconvenient. I try to take in the 
scene before me with my eye, to seize all its beauties ; and 
on the spot I love to cover a whole sheet with scratches 



10 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

which represent nothing exactly, but which, nevertheless, 
possess an infinite value in my eyes, as serving to remind 
me of the happy moment whose bliss even this bungling 
exercise could not mar. What means, then, this strange 
effort to pass from art to nature, and then back again from 
nature to art? If it gives promise of an artist, why is 
steadiness wanting to me? If it calls me to enjoyment, 
wherefore, then, am I not able to seize it? I lately had a 
present of a basket of fruit. I was in raptures at the sight 
of it, as of something heavenly, — such riches, such abun- 
dance, such variety, and yet such affinity ! I could not 
persuade myself to pluck off a single berry : I could not 
bring myself to take a single peach or a fig. Most assur- 
edly this gratification of the eye and the inner sense is the 
highest, and most worthy of man : in all probability it is the 
design of Nature, when the hungry and thirsty believe that 
she has exhausted herself in marvels merely for the grati- 
fication of their palate. Ferdinand came and found me 
in the midst of these meditations. He did me justice, and 
then said, smiling, but with a deep sigh, " Yes, we are not 
worthy to consume these glorious products of Nature : truly 
it were a pity. Permit me to make a present of them to my 
beloved ? ' ' How glad was I to see the basket carried off ! 
How did I love Ferdinand ! How did I thank him for the 
feeling he had excited in me, for the prospect he gave me ! 
Ay, we ought to acquaint ourselves with the beautiful : we 
ought to contemplate it with rapture, and attempt to raise 
ourselves up to its height. And, in order to gain strength 
for that, we must keep ourselves thoroughly unselfish : we 
must not make it our own, but rather seek to communicate 
it, indeed, to make a sacrifice of it to those who are dear 
and precious to us. 

How sedulously we are shaped and moulded in our youth ! 
how constantly we then are called on to lay aside now 
this, now that, bad feeling ! But what, in fact, are our so- 
called bad feelings, but so many organs by means of which 
man is to aid himself in life ? How people worry a poor child 
in whom but a little spark of vanity is discovered ! and yet 
what a poor miserable creature is a man who has no vanity 
at all ! I will now tell you what has led me to make all these 
reflections. The clay before yesterday we were joined by a 
young fellow who was most disagreeable to me and Ferdinand. 
His weak points were so prominent, his emptiness so mani- 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 11 

fest, and the care he bestowed on his outward appearance so 
obvious, that we looked down upon him as far inferior to 
ourselves ; and yet he was everywhere received better than 
we. Among other of his follies, he wore a waistcoat of 
red satin, which round the neck was so cut as to look like 
the ribbon of some order or other. We could not refrain 
from joking about this piece of absurdity. But he let them all 
pass ; for he drew a good profit from it, and perhaps secretly 
laughed at us. For host and hostess, coachman, waiter, and 
chambermaid, and, indeed, not a few of our fellow-travel- 
lers, were taken in by this seeming ornament, and showed 
greater politeness to him to than us. Not only was he always 
first waited upon, but, to our great humiliation, we saw that 
all the pretty girls in the inns bestowed all their stolen 
glances upon him. And then, when it came to the reckoning, 
which his eminence and distinction had enhanced, we had to 
pay our full shares. Who, then, was the fool in the game? 
Assuredly not he. 

There is something pretty and instructive about the 
symbols and maxims which one here sees on all the stoves. 
Here you have the drawing of one of these symbols which 
particularly caught my fancy. A horse, tethered by his hind- 
foot to a stake, is grazing round it as far as his tether will 
permit: beneath is written, "Allow me to take my allotted 
portion of food." This, too, will be the case with me when 
I come home, and, like the horse in the mill, shall have to 
work away at your pleasure, and in return, like the horse 
here on the stove, shall receive a nicely measured dole for 
my support. Yes, I am coming back ; and what awaits me 
was certainly well worth all the trouble of climbing up these 
mountain heights, of wandering through these valleys, and 
seeing this blue sky, of discovering that there is a nature 
which exists by an eternal, voiceless necessity, which has no 
wants, no feelings, and is divine ; whilst we, whether in the 
country or in the towns, have alike to toil hard to gain a 
miserable subsistence, and at the same time struggle to subject 
every thing to our lawless caprice, and call it liberty. 

Ay, I have ascended the Furca, — the summit of St. Go- 
thard. These sublime, incomparable scenes of nature will 
ever stand before my eye. Ay, I have read the Roman 
history in order to gain from the comparison a distinct and 
vivid feeling what a thoroughly miserable being I am. 



12 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

Never has it been so clear to me as during these last few 
days, that I, too, could be happy on moderate means ; could 
be quite as happy as any one else, if only I knew a trade, — 
an exciting one, indeed, but yet one which had no conse- 
quences for the morrow, which required nothing but industry 
and attention at the time, without calling for either foresight 
or retrospection. Ever^t mechanic seems to me the happiest 
of mortals : all he has to do is already settled for him, what 
he can do is fixed and known. He has not to rack his brains 
over the task that is set him. He works away without think- 
ing, without exertion or haste, but still with diligence and 
pleasure in his work, like a bird building its nest, or a bee 
constructing its cells. He is but a degree above the beasts, 
and yet he is a perfect man. How do I env} 7 the potter at 
his wheel, or the joiner behind his bench ! 

Tilling the soil is not to my liking : this first and most 
necessary of man's occupations is disagreeable to me. In it 
man doe's but ape Nature, who scatters her seeds eveiy where ; 
whereas man would choose that a particular field should pro- 
duce none but one particular fruit. But things do not go on 
exactly so : the weeds spring up luxuriantly ; the cold and 
wet injures the crop, or the hail cuts it off entirely. The 
poor husbandman anxiously waits throughout the year to see 
how the cards will decide the game with the clouds, and 
determine whether he shall win or lose his stakes. Such a 
doubtful, ambiguous condition may be right suitable to man in 
his present ignorance, while he knows not whence he came, 
nor whither he is going. It may, then, be tolerable to man to 
resign all his labors to chance ; and thus the parson, at any 
rate, has an opportunity, when things look thoroughly bad, to 
remind him of Providence, and to connect the sins of his 
flock with the incidents of Nature. 

So, then, I have nothing to joke Ferdinand about ! I, too, 
have met with a pleasant adventure. Adventure ! — why do I 
use the silly word ? There is nothing of adventure in a gentle 
attraction which draws man to man. Our social life, our false 
relations — those are adventures, those are monstrosities ; and 
yet they come before us as well known, and as nearly akin to 
us, as uncle and aunt. 

We had been introduced to Herr Tiidou ; and we found our- 
selves very happy among this family, — rich, open-hearted, 
good-natured, lively people, who in the society of their 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 13 

children, in comfort and without care, enjoy the good which 
each day brings with it, their property, and their glorious 
neighborhood. We young folks were not required, as is too 
often the case in so many formal households, to sacrifice our- 
selves at the card-table in order to humor the old. On the 
contrary, the old people — father, mother, and aunts — gath- 
ered round us, when, for our own amusement, we got up some 
little games in which chance and thought and wit had their 
counteracting influence. Eleonora, for I must now at last 
mention her name, — the second daughter (her image will for- 
ever be present to my mind), — a slim slight frame, deli- 
ately chiselled features, a bright eye, a palish complexion, 
which in young girls of her age is rather pleasing than dis- 
agreeable, as being a sign of no very incurable a malady : on 
the whole, her appearauce was extremely agreeable. She 
seemed cheerful and lively, and every one felt at his ease with 
her. Soon, indeed I may venture to say at once, — at once, 
on the very first evening, she made me her companion : she sat 
by my side ; and, if the game separated us a moment, she soon 
contrived to find her old place again. I was gay and cheerful. 
My journey, the beautiful weather, the country — all had con- 
tributed to produce in mean immoderate cheerfulness, — ay, I 
might almost venture to say a state of excitement. I derived 
it from every thing, and imparted it to every thing : even Fer- 
dinand seemed to forget his fair one. We had almost ex- 
hausted ourselves in varying our amusements, when we at last 
thought of the "game of matrimony." The names of the 
ladies and of the gentlemen were thrown separately into two 
hats, and then the pairs were drawn out one by one. On each 
couple as determined by the lot, one of the company whose 
turn it might happen to be had to write a little poem. Every 
one of the party — father, mother, and aunts — were obliged to 
put their names in the hats. We cast in, besides, the names of 
our acquaintances, and, to enlarge the number of candidates 
for matrimon}', we threw in those of all the well-known char- 
acters of the literary and of the political world. We com- 
menced playing, and the first pairs that were drawn were 
highly distinguished personages. It was not every one, how- 
ever, who was ready at once with his verses. She, Ferdinand 
and myself, and one of the aunts, who wrote very pretty 
verses in French — we soon divided among ourselves the office 
of secretary. The conceits were mostly good, and the verses 
tolerable. Hers, especially, had a touch of nature about them 
which distinguished them from all others. Without being 



14 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

really clever, they had a happy turn : they were playful without 
being bitter, and showed good will towards every one. The 
father laughed heartily ; and his face was lit up with joy when 
his daughter's verses were declared to be the best, after 
mine. Our unqualified approbation highly delighted him. 
We praised, as men praise unexpected merit, — as we praise 
an author who has bribed us. At last out came my lot, and 
chance had taken honorable care of me. It was no less a 
personage than the Empress of all the Russias, who was 
drawn to be my partner for life. The company laughed 
heartily at the match ; and Eleonora maintained that the 
whole company must try their best to do honor to so eminent 
a consort. All began to try : a few pens were bitten to 
pieces. She was ready first, but wished to read last. The 
mother and the aunt could make nothing of the subject ; and 
although the father was rather matter-of-fact, Ferdinand 
somewhat humorous, and the aunts rather reserved, still, 
through all, you could see friendship and good will. At 
last it came to her turn. She drew a deep breath, her 
ease and cheerfulness left her : she did not read, but rather 
lisped it out, and laid it before me to read it to the rest. I 
was astonished, amazed. Thus does the bud of love open in 
beauty and modesty. I felt as if a whole spring had showered 
upon me all its flowers at once. Every one was silent. Fer- 
dinand lost not his presence of mind. "Beautiful!" he 
exclaimed, " very beautiful ! He deserves the poem as little 
as an empire." — "If only we have rightly understood it," 
said the father. The rest requested I would read it once 
more. My eyes had hitherto been fixed on the precious 
words : a shudder ran through me from head to foot. Ferdi- 
nand, who saw my perplexity, took the paper up, and read 
it. She scarcely allowed him to finish before she drew out the 
lots for another pair. The game was not kept up long after 
this, and refreshments were brought in. 

Shall I, or shall I not? Is it right of me to hide in silence 
any thing from him to whom I tell so much, nay, all? Shall 
I keep back from you a great matter, when I yet weary you 
with so many trifles which assuredly no one would ever read 
but you who have taken so wonderful a liking for me ? or 
shall I keep back any thing from you, because it might, per- 
haps, give you a false, not to say an ill, opinion of me? No : 
do you know me better than I even know myself. If I should 
do any thing which you do not believe possible I could do, you 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 15 

will amend it : if I should do any thing deserving of censure, 
you will not spare me ; you will lead me and guide me 
whenever my peculiarities entice me off the right road. 

My joy, my rapture, at works of art when they are true, 
when they are immediate and speaking expressions of Nature, 
afford the greatest delight to every collector, to every dilet- 
tante. Those, indeed, who call themselves connoisseurs, are 
not always of my opinion ; but I care nothing for their con- 
noisseurship when I am happy. Does not living nature vividly 
impress itself on my sense of vision? Do not its images 
remain fixed in my brain ? Do not they there grow in beauty, 
delighting to compare themselves, in turn, with the images 
of art which the mind of others has also embellished and 
beautified? I confess to you that my fondness for Nature 
arises from the fact of my always seeing her so beautiful, 
so lovely, so brilliant, so ravishing, that the similation of the 
artist, even his imperfect imitation, transports me almost as 
much as if it were a perfect type. It is, however, only such 
works of art as bespeak genius and feeling, that have any 
charms for me. Those cold imitations which confine them- 
selves to the narrow circle of a certain meagre mannerism, 
of mere painstaking diligence, are to me utterly intolerable. 
You see, therefore, that my delight and taste cannot well be 
riveted by a work of art, unless it imitates such objects of 
nature as are well known to me ; so that I am able to test the 
imitation by my own experience of the originals. Land- 
scape, with all that lives and moves therein ; flowers and 
fruit-trees ; Gothic churches ; a portrait taken directly from 
Nature, — all this I can recognize, feel, and, if you like, judge 

of. Honest W amused himself with this trait of my 

character, and, in such a way that I could not be offended, 
often made merry with it at my expense. He sees much 
farther in this matter than I, and I shall always prefer that 
people should laugh at me while they instruct than that they 
should praise without benefiting me. lie had noticed what 
things I was most immediately pleased with, and, after a 
short acquaintance, did not hesitate to avow, that, in the 
objects that so transported me, there might be much that was 
truly estimable, and which time alone would enable me to 
distinguish. 

But I turn from this subject, and must now, however cir- 
cuitously, come to the matter, which, though reluctantly, I 
cannot but confide to you. I can see you in your room, in 
your little garden, where, over a pipe of tobacco, you will 



16 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

probably break the seal, and read this letter. Can your 
thoughts follow me into this free and motley world? Will 
the circumstances and true state of the case become clear to 
your imagination ? And will you be as indulgent towards 
your absent friend as I have often found you when present? 
When my artistic friend became better acquainted with 
me, and judged me worthy of being gradually introduced to 
better pieces of art, he one da} T , not without a most mysteri- 
ous look, took me to a case, which, being opened, displayed 
a life-size Danae receiving in her lap the golden shower. I 
was amazed at the splendor of the limbs, the magnificence 
of the posture and arrangement, the intense tenderness and 
the intellectuality of the sensual object ; and yet I did but 
stand before it in silent contemplation. It did not excite 
in me that rapture, that delight, that inexpressible pleasure. 
My friend, who went on descanting upon the merits of the 
picture, was too full of his own enthusiasm to notice my 
coldness, and delighted to have an opportunity of pointing 
out to me in this painting the distinctive excellences of the 
Italian school. 

But the sight of this picture has not made me happy : it 
has made me uneasy. What ! said I to myself, — in what a 
strange case do we civilized men find ourselves, w r ith our 
many conventional restraints ! A mossy rock, a waterfall, 
rivets my eye so long that I can tell every thing about it, — 
its heights, its cavities, its lights and shades, its hues, its 
blending tints and reflections : all is distinctly present to 
my mind, and, whenever I please, comes vividly before me 
in a most happy imitation. But of that masterpiece of 
Nature, the human frame, of the order and symmetry of 
the limbs, — of all this I have but a very general notion, 
which, in fact, is no notion at all. My imagination presents 
to me any thing but a vivid image of this glorious structure ; 
and, when art presents an imitation of it to my eye, it 
awakens in me no sensation, and I am unable to judge of the 
merits of the picture. No, I will remain no longer in this 
state of stupidity. I will stamp on my mind the shape of 
man, as well as that of a cluster of grapes, or of a peach- 
tree. 

I induced Ferdinand to bathe in the lake. What a glorious 
shape my friend has ! How duly proportioned all his limbs 
are ! what fulness of form ! what splendor of youth ! What 
a gain to have enriched my imagination with this perfect 
model of manhood ! Now I can people the woods, the 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 17 

meadow, and the hills, with similar line forms. I can see 
him as Adonis chasing the boar, or as Narcissus contemplat- 
ing himself in the mirror of the spring. 

But alas ! my imagination cannot furnish as yet a Venus 
holding him from the chase, a Venus bewailing his death, or 
a beautiful Echo casting one sad look more on the cold corpse 
of the youth before she vanishes forever. I have therefore 
resolved, cost what it will, to see a female form in the state 
in which I have seen my friend. 

When, therefore, we reached Geneva, I made arrangements, 
in the character of an artist, to complete my studies of the 
nude figure, and to-morrow evening my wish is to be 
gratified. 

I cannot avoid going to-day with Ferdinand to a grand 
party. It will form an excellent foil to the studies of this 
evening. Well enough do I know those formal parties, where 
the old women require you to play at cards with them, and the 
young ones to ogle with them ; where you must listen to 
the learned, pay respect to the parson, and give way to the 
noble ; where the numerous lights show you scarcely one tol- 
erable form, and that one hidden and buried beneath some 
barbarous load of frippery. I shall have to speak French, 
too, — a foreign tongue, — the use of which always makes a 
man appear silly, whatever he may think of himself, since the 
best he can express in it is nothing but commonplace and* 
the most obvious of remarks, and that, too, only with stam- 
mering and hesitating lips. For what is it that distinguishes 
the blockhead from the really clever man, but the peculiar 
quickness and vividness with which the latter discerns the 
nicer shades and proprieties of all that comes before him, 
and expresses himself thereon with facility? whereas the 
former (just as we all do with a foreign language) is forced 
on every occasion to have recourse to some ready-found and 
conversational phrase or other. To-day I will calmly put up 
with the sorry entertainment, in expectation of the rare scene 
of Nature which awaits me. 

My adventure is over. It has fully equalled my expecta- 
tion, nay, surpassed it; and yet I know not whether to 
congratulate or to blame myself on account of it. 



18 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND 



PART THE SECOND. 

Munster, Oct. 3, 1707. 

From Basle you will receive a packet containing an account 
of my travels up to that point ; for we are now continuing in 
good earnest our tours through Switzerland. On our route 
to Biel we rode up the beautiful valley of the Birsch, and at 
last reached the pass which leads to this place. 

Among the ridges of the broad and lofty range of moun- 
tains, the little stream of the Birsch found, of old, a channel 
for itself. Necessity soon after may have driven men to 
clamber wearily and painfully through its gorges. The 
Romans, in their time, enlarged the track ; and now you may 
travel through it with perfect ease. The stream, dashing 
over crags and rocks, and the road, run side by side ; and, 
except at a few points, these make up the whole breadth of 
the pass, which is hemmed in by rocks, the top of which is 
easily reached by the eye. Behind them the mountain chain 
rose with a slight inclination : the summits, however, were 
veiled by a mist. 

Here walls of rock rise precipitously one above another, 
there immense strata run obliquely down to the river and the 
road ; here, again, broad masses lie piled one over another, 
while close beside stands a line of sharp-pointed crags. Wide 
clefts run yawning upwards ; and blocks, of the size of a wall, 
have detached themselves from the rest of the stony mass. 
Some fragments of the rock have rolled to the bottom : 
others are still suspended, and Iry their position alarm you, 
as also likely at any moment to come toppling down. 

Now round, now pointed, now overgrown, now bare, are 
the tops of these rocks, among and high above which some 
single bald summit boldly towers ; while along the perpen- 
dicular cliffs, and among the hollows below, the weather has 
worn many a deep and winding cranny. 

The passage through this defile raised in me a grand but 
calm emotion. The sublime produces a beautiful calmness 
in the soul, which, entirely possessed by it, feels as great as it 
ever can feel. How glorious is such a pure feeling when it 
rises to the very highest, without overflowing ! JM/y eye and 
my soul were both able to take in the objects before me ; 
and as I was pre-occupied by nothing, and had no false tastes 
to counteract their impression, they had on me their full and 
natural effect. AVhen we compare such a feeling with that 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 19 

we are sensible of when we laboriously harass ourselves with 
some trifle, and strain every nerve to gain as much as possible 
for it, and, as it were, to patch it out, striving to furnish 
joy and aliment to the mind from its own creation, we then 
feel sensibly what a poor expedient, after all, the latter is. 

A young man whom we have had for our companion from 
Basle said his feelings were very far from what they were 
on his first visit, and gave all the honor to novelty. I, 
however, would say, when we see such objects as these for 
the first time, the unaccustomed soul has to expand itself; 
and this gives rise to a sort of painful joy, — an overflowing 
of emotion, which agitates the mind, and draws from us the 
most delicious tears. By this operation, the soul, without 
knowing it, becomes greater in itself, and is, of course, not 
capable of ever feeling again such a sensation ; and man 
thinks, in consequence, that he has lost something, whereas 
in fact he has gained. What he loses in delight, he gains in 
inwhrd riches. If only destiny had bidden me to dwell in 
the midst of some grand scenery, then would I every morn- 
ing have imbibed greatness from its grandeur ; as, from a 
lonely valley, I would extract patience and repose. 

After reaching the end of the gorge, I alighted, and went 
back alone through a part of the valley. I thus called forth 
another profound feeling, — one by which the attentive mind 
may expand its joys to a high degree. One guesses in the 
dark about the origin and existence of these singular forms. 
It may have happened when and how it may : these masses 
must, according to the laws of gravity and affinity, have 
been formed grandly and simply by aggregation. Whatever 
revolutions may subsequently have upheaved, rent, and 
divided them, the latter were only partial convulsions ; and 
even the idea of such mighty commotions gives one a deep 
feeling of the eternal stability of the masses. Time, too, 
bound by the everlasting law, has had here greater, here 
less, effect upon them. 

Internally their color appears to be yellowish. The air, 
however, and the weather, have changed the surface into a 
bluish-gray ; so that the original color is only visible here and 
there in streaks and in the fresh cracks. The stone itself 
slowly crumbles beneath the influence of the weather, be- 
coming rounded at the edges as the softer flakes wear away. 
In this manner have been formed hollows and cavities grace- 
fully shelving off, which, when they have sharp slanting and 
pointed edges, present a singular appearance. 



20 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

Vegetation maintains its rights on every ledge, on every 
flat surface ; for in every fissure the pines strike root, and 
the mosses and plants spread themselves over the rocks. 
One feels deeply convinced that there is nothing accidental ; 
that here there is working an eternal law, which, however 
slowly, yet surely governs the universe ; that there is nothing 
here from the hand of man but the convenient road by means 
of which this singular region is traversed. 

Geneva, Oct. 21, 1779. 
The great mountain range, which, running from Basle to 
Geneva, divides Switzerland from France, is, as you are 
aware, named the Jura. Its principal heights run by Lau- 
sanne, and reach as far as Rolle and Nyon. In the midst of 
this summit ridge, Nature has cut out — I might almost say 
washed out — a remarkable valley ; for on the tops of all 
these limestone rocks the operation of the primal waters is 
manifest. It is called La Vallee de Joux, which means the 
Valley of the Rock, since Jonx, in the local dialect, signifies 
a rock. Before I proceed with the further description of our 
journey, I will give you a brief geographical account of its 
situation. Lengthwise it stretches, like the mountain range 
itself, almost directly from south to north, and is locked in 
on the one side by Sept Moncels, and on the other by Dent 
de Vaulion, which, after the Dole, is the highest peak of the 
Jura. Its length, according to the statement of the neigh- 
borhood, is nine short leagues, but, according to our rough 
reckoning as we rode through it, six good leagues. The 
mountainous ridge which bounds it lengthwise on the north, 
and is also visible from the flat lands, is called the Black 
Mountain (Le Noir Mont). Towards the west, the Risou 
rises gradually, and slopes away towards Franche Comte. 
France and Berne divide the valley pretty evenly between 
them ; the former claiming the upper and inferior half, and 
the latter possessing the lower and better portion, which is 
properly called La Vallee du Lac de Joux. Quite at the 
upper part of the valley, and at the foot of Sept Moncels, 
lies the Lac des Rousses, which has no single visible origin, 
but gathers its waters from the numerous springs which here 
gush out of the soil, and from the little brooks which run 
into the lake from all sides. Out of it flows the Orbe, which, 
after running through the whole of the French and a great 
portion of the Bernese territory, forms, lower down and 
towards the Dent de Vaulion, the Lac de Joux, which falls 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 21 

on one side into a smaller lake, the waters of which have 
some subterraneous outlet. The breadth of the valley 
varies : above, near the Lac des Ronsses, it is nearly half a 
league, then it closes in to expand again presently, and to 
reach its greatest breadth, which is nearly a league and 
a half. So much to enable yon better to understand what 
follows. While yon read it, however, I would beg you now 
and then to cast a glance upon your ma}), although, so far as 
concerns this country, I have found them all to be incorrect. 
Oct. 24. — In company with a captain and an upper ranger 
of the forests in these parts, we rode, first of all, up Mont, 
a little scattered village which much more correctly might be 
called a line of husbandmen's and vine-dressers' cottages. 
The weather was extremely clear. When we turned to look 
behind us, we had a view of the Lake of Geneva, the moun- 
tains of Savoy and Valais, and could just catch Lausanne, 
and also, through a light mist, the country round Geneva. 
Mont Blanc, which towers above all the mountains of 
Faucigni, stood out more and more distinctly. It was a 
brilliant sunset; and the view was so grand, that no human 
eye was equal to it. The moon rose almost at the full as 
we got continually higher. Through large pine-forests we 
continued to ascend the Jura, and saw the lake in a mist, 
and in it the reflection of the moon. It became lighter and 
lighter. The road is a well-made causeway, though it was 
Laid down merely for the sake of facilitating the transport of 
the timber to the plains below. We had been ascending for 
full three leagues, before the road began gently to descend. 
We thought we saw below us a vast lake, for a thick mist 
tilled the whole valley which we overlooked. Presently we 
came nearer to the mist, and observed a white bow, which 
the moon formed in it, and were soon entirely enveloped in the 
fog. The company of the captain procured us lodgings in a 
house where strangers were not usually entertained. In its 
internal arrangement, it differed in nothing from usual build- 
ings of the same kind, except that the great room in the 
centre was at once the kitchen, the anteroom, and general 
gathering-place of the family ; and from it you entered at 
once into the sleeping-rooms, which were either on the same 
floor with it, or had to be approached by steps. On the one 
side was the lire, which was burning on the ground on some 
stone slabs ; while a chimney, built durably and neatly of 
planks, received and carried off the smoke. In the corner 
were the doors of the oven. All the rest of the floor was of 



22 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

wood, with the exception of a small piece near the window, 
around the sink, which was paved. Moreover, all around 
and overhead, on the beams, a multitude of domestic articles 
and utensils were arranged in beautiful order, and all kept 
nice and clean. 

Oct. 25. — This morning the weather was cold but clear, 
the meadows covered with hoar-frost, and here and there 
light clouds were floating in the air. We could pretty nearly 
survey the whole of the lower valley, our house being situ- 
ated at the foot of the eastern side of Noir Mont. About 
eight we set off, and, in order to enjoy the sun fully, pro- 
ceeded on the western side. The part of the valley we now 
traversed was divided into meadows, which towards the 
lake were rather swampy. The inhabitants either dwell in 
detached houses built by the side of their farms, or else have 
gathered closer together in little villages, which bear simple 
names derived from their several sites. The first of those 
that we passed through was called " Le Sentier." We saw 
at a distance the Dent de Vaulion peeping out over a mist 
which rested on the lake. The valley grew broader ; but our 
road now lay behind a ridge of rock which shut out our view 
of the lake, and then through another village, called " Le 
Lieu." The mist arose and fell off, highly variegated by the 
sun. Close hereto is a small lake, which apparently has 
neither inlet nor outlet to its waters. The weather cleared 
up completely as we came to the foot of Dent de Vaulion, 
and reached the northern extremity of the great lake, which, 
as it turns westward, empties itself into a smaller by a dam 
beneath the bridge. The village just above is called " Le 
Pont." The situation of the smaller lake is what you may 
easily conceive as being in a peculiar little valley, which may 
be called pretty. At the western extremity there is a sin- 
gular mill built in a ravine of the rock, which the smaller 
lake used formerly to fill. At present it is dammed out of 
the mill, which is erected in the hollow below. The water is 
conveyed by sluices to the wheel, from which it falls into 
crannies of the rock, and, being sucked in by them, does not 
show itself again till it reaches Valorbe, which is a full 
league off, where it again bears the name of the " Orbe." 
These outlets {entonnoirs) require to be kept clear : otherwise 
the water would rise, and again fill the ravine, and overflow 
the mill, as it has often done already. We saw the people 
hard at work removing the worn pieces of the limestone, and 
replacing them by others. 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 23 

We rode back again over the bridge, towards Le Pont, 
and took a guide for the Dent dn Vanlion. In ascending it 
we now had the great lake directly behind us. To the 
east its boundary is the Noir Mont, behind which the bald 
peak of the Dole rises up : to the west it is shut in by the 
mountain ridge, which, on the side of the lake, is perfectly 
bare. The sun felt hot : it was between eleven and twelve 
o'clock. By degrees we gained a sight of the whole valley, 
and were able to discern in the distance the Lac des 
Rousses, and then, stretching to our feet, the district we 
had just ridden through, and the road which remained for 
our return. During the ascent my guide discoursed of the 
whole range of the country and the lordships, which, he 
said, it was possible to distinguish from the peak. In the 
midst of such talk we reached the summit. But a very 
different spectacle was prepared for us. Under a bright 
and clear sky nothing was visible but the high mountain 
chain. All the lower regions were covered with a white sea 
of cloudy mist, which stretched from Geneva northwards, 
along the horizon, and glittered brilliantly in the sunshine. 
Out of it rose, to the east, the whole line of snow and ice 
capped mountains, acknowledging no distinction of names 
of either the princes or peoples who fancied they were own- 
ers of them, and owning subjection oc]y to one Lord, and to 
the glance of the sun, which was tinging them with a beau- 
tiful red. Mont Blanc, right opposite to us, seemed the 
highest ; next to it were the ice-crowned summits of Valais 
and Oberland ; and lastly came the lower mountains of the 
canton of Berne. Towards the west, the sea of mist, which 
was unconfined to one spot ; on the left, in the remotest 
distance, appeared the mountains of Solothurn ; somewhat 
nearer, those of Neufchatel ; and right before us, some of 
the lower heights of the Jura. Just below, lay some of the 
masses of the Vaulion, to which belongs the Dent (tooth), 
which takes from it its name. To the west, Franche-Comte, 
with its flat, outstretched, and wood-covered hills, shut in 
the whole horizon. In the distance, towards the north-west, 
one single mass stood out distinct from all the rest. Straight 
before us, however, was a beautiful object. This was the 
peak which gives this summit the name of a tooth. It de- 
scends precipitously, or rather with a slight curve, inwards ; 
and in the bottom it is succeeded by a small valley of pine- 
trees, with beautiful grassy patches here and there, while 
right beyond it lies the valley of the Orbe(Val-orbe), where 



24 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

you see this stream coming out of the rock, and can trace, 
in thought, its route backwards to the smaller lake. The 
little town of Valorbe also lies in this valle} T . Most reluc- 
tantly we quitted the spot. A delay of a few hours longer 
(for the mist generally disperses in about that time) would 
have enabled us to distinguish the low lands with the lake ; 
but, in order that our enjo3 T ment should be perfect, we 
must always have something behind still to be wished. As 
we descended, we had the whole valley lying perfectly dis- 
tinct before us. At Le Pont we again mounted our horses, 
and rode to the east side of the lake, and passed through 
L'Abba} T e de Joux, which at present is a village, but once 
was a settlement of monks, to whom the whole valley be- 
longed. Towards four we reached our auberge, and found 
our meal ready, of which we were assured by our hostess 
that at twelve o'clock it would have been good eating, and 
which, overdone as it was, tasted excellently. 

Let me now add a few particulars just as they were told 
me. As I mentioned just now, the valley belonged for- 
merly to the monks, who, having divided it again to feuda- 
tories, were, with the rest, ejected at the Reformation. At 
present it belongs to the canton of Berne ; and the moun- 
tains around are the timber-stores of the Pays de Vaud. 
Most of the timber is private property, and is cut up under 
supervision, and then carried down into the plains. The 
planks are also made here into deal utensils of all kinds, and 
pails, tubs, and similar articles manufactured. 

The people are civil and well disposed. Besides their 
trade in wood, they also breed cattle. Their beasts are of a 
small size. The cheese they make is excellent. They are 
very industrious, and a clod of earth is with them a great 
treasure. AVe saw one man, with a horse and cart, carefully 
collecting the earth which had been thrown up out of a 
ditch, and carrying it to some hollow places in the same 
field. They lay the stones carefully together, and make 
little heaps of them. There are here many stone-polishers, 
who work for the Genevese and other tradesmen ; and this 
business furnishes occupation for man} 7 women and children. 
The houses are neat, but durable ; the form and internal 
arrangements being determined by the locality, and the wants 
of the inmates. Before every house there is a running 
stream, and everywhere } T ou see signs of industry, activity, 
and wealth. But above all things is the highest praise due 
to the excellent roads, which in this remote region, as also in 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 25 

all the other cantons, are kept up by that of Berne. A 
causeway is carried all round the valley, not unnecessarily 
broad, but in excellent repair; so that the inhabitants can 
pursue their avocations without inconvenience, and, with 
their small horses and light carts, pass easily along. The 
air is very pure and salubrious. 

On the 2Gth of October, during breakfast, we deliberated 
as to the road we should take on our return. As we heard 
that the Dole, the highest summit of the Jura, lay at no 
great distance from the upper end of the valley, and as the 
weather promised to be most glorious, so that we might 
to-day hope to enjoy all that chance denied us yesterday, 
we finally determined to take this route. We loaded a guide 
with bread and cheese, and butter and wine, and by eight 
o'clock mounted our horses. Our route now lay along the 
upper part of the valley, in the shade of Noir Mont. It was 
extremely cold, and there had been a sharp hoar-frost. We 
had still a league to ride, through the part belonging to Berne, 
before the causeway (which there terminates) branches 
off into two parts. Through a little wood of pine-trees 
we entered the French territory. Here the scene changed 
greatly. What first excited our attention was the wretched 
roads. The soil is rather stony : everywhere you see great 
heaps of those which have been picked off the fields. Soon 
you come to a part which is very marshy, and full of springs. 
The woods all around you arc in wretched condition. In 
all the houses and people you recognize, I will not say want, 
but certainly a hard and meagre subsistence. They belong, 
almost as serfs, to the canons of St. Claude : they are bound 
to the soil (glebce astricti), and are oppressed with imposts 
(sujets a la main-morte et au droit cle la suite), of which 
we will hereafter have some talk together, as also of a late 
edict of the king's, repealing the droit de la suite, and invit- 
ing the owners and occupiers to redeem the main-morte for 
a certain compensation. But still even this portion of the 
valley is well cultivated. The people love their country 
dearly ; though they lead a hard life, being driven occa- 
sionally to steal the wood from the Bernese, and sell it 
again in the lowlands. The first division is called the Bois 
d'Amant. After passing through it, we entered the parish 
of Les Rousses, where we saw before us the little Lake des 
Rousses and Les Sept Moncels, — seven small hills of differ- 
ent shapes, but all connected together, which form the south- 
ern limit of the valley. We soon came upon the new road 



26 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

which runs from the Pays cle Vaud to Paris. We kept to 
this for a mile downwards, and now left entirely the valley. 
The bare summit of the Dole was before us. We alighted 
from our horses, and sent them on by the road towards 
St. Cergue, while we ascended the Dole. It was near noon. 
The sun felt hot, but a cool south wind came now and then to 
refresh us. When we looked round for a halting-place, we 
had behind us Les Sept Moncels, we could still see a part of 
the Lac des Pousses, and around it the scattered houses of the 
parish. The rest of the valley was hidden from our eye by 
the Noir Mont, above which we again saw our } T esterday's 
view of Franche-Comte, and nearer at hand, southwards, the 
last summits and valleys of the Jura. We carefully avoided 
taking advantage of a little peep in the hill, which would 
have given us a glimpse of the country, for the sake of 
which, in reality, our ascent was undertaken. I was in some 
anxiety about the mist : however, from the aspect of the 
sky above, I drew a favorable omen. At last we stood on 
the highest summit, and saw with the greatest delight that 
to-day we were indulged with all that yesterday had been 
denied us. The whole of the Pays de Vaux and de Gex lay 
like a plan before us ; all the different holdings divided off 
with green hedges, like the beds of a parterre. We were so 
high, that the rising and sinking of the landscape before us 
were unnoticeable. Villages, little towns, country-houses, 
vine-covered hills, and higher up still, where the forests 
and Alps begin, the cow-sheds (mostly painted white, or 
some other light color) , — all glittered in the sunshine. The 
mist had alread} 7 rolled off from Lake Leman. We saw the 
nearest part of the coast on our side, quite clear : of the so- 
called smaller lake, where the larger lake contracts itself, 
and turns towards Geneva, which was right opposite to us, 
we had a complete view ; and on the other side, the country 
which shuts it in was gradually clearing. But nothing could 
vie with the view of the mountains, covered with snow and 
glaciers. We sat down before some rocks, to shelter us from 
the cold wind, with the sunshine full upon us, and highly 
relished our little meal. We kept watching the mist, which 
gradually retired. Each one discovered, or fancied he dis- 
covered, some object or other. One by one we distinctly 
saw Lausanne, surrounded with its houses and gardens, 
then Bevay and the Castle of Chillon ; the mountains, which 
shut out from our view the entrance into Valais, and ex- 
tended as far as the lake ; from thence the borders of Savoy, 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 27 

Evian, Repaille, and Tonon, with a sprinkling of villages 
and farmhouses between them. At last Geneva stood clear 
from the mist ; but beyond, and towards the south, in the 
neighborhood of Monte Credo and Monte Vauche, it still 
hung immovable. When the eye turned to the left, it caught 
sight of the whole of the lowlands from Lausanne, as far as 
Solothurn, covered with a light halo. The nearer mountains 
and heights, and every spot that had a white house on it, 
could be closely distinguished. The guides pointed out a 
glimmering, which they said was the castle of Chauvan, which 
lies to the left of the Neuberger-See. We were just able to 
guess whereabouts it lay, but could not distinguish it through 
the bluish haze. There are no words to express the gran- 
deur and beauty of this view. At the moment every one 
is scarcely conscious of what he sees : one does but recall 
the names and sites of well-known cities and localities, to 
rejoice in a vague conjecture that he recognizes them in 
certain white spots which strike his eye in the prospect 
before him. 

And then the line of glittering glaciers was continually 
drawing the eye back again to the mountains. The sun 
made his way towards the west, and lighted up their great 
flat surfaces, which were turned towards us. How beauti- 
fully before them rose from above the snow the variegated 
rows of black rocks! — teeth, towers, walls; wild, vast, 
inaccessible vestibules'! — and seeming to stand there in the 
free air in the first purity and freshness of their manifold 
variety. Man gives up at once all pretensions to the in- 
finite, while he here feels that neither with thought nor vision 
is he equal to the finite. 

Before us we saw a fruitful and populous plain. The 
spot on which we were standing was a high, bare mountain 
rock, which, however, produces a sort of grass as food for 
the cattle, which are here a great source of gain. This the 
conceited lord of creation may yet make his own ; but 
those rocks before his eyes are like a train of holy virgins, 
which the spirit of heaven reserves for itself alone in these in- 
accessible regions. We tarried a while, tempting each other, 
in turn, to try and discover cities, mountains, and regions, 
now with the naked eye, now with the telescope, and did 
not begin to descend till the setting sun gave permission 
to the mist — his own parting breath — to spread itself over 
the lake. 

With sunset we reached the ruins of the fort of St. Cergue. 



28 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

Even when we got down in the valley, our eyes were still 
riveted on the mountain glaciers. The farthest of these, 
lying on our left in Oberland, seemed almost to be melting 
into a light fiery vapor : those still nearer stood with their 
sides towards us, still glowing and red ; but Ivy degrees they 
became white, green, and grayish. There was something 
melancholy in the sight. Like a powerful body over which 
death is gradually passing from the extremities to the heart, 
so the whole range gradually paled away as far as Mont 
Blanc, whose ampler bosom was still covered all over with a 
deep red blush, and even appeared to us to retain a reddish 
tint to the very last, — just as, when one is watching the 
death of a dear friend, life still seems to linger, and it is 
difficult to determine the very moment when the pulse ceases 
to beat. 

This time, also, we were very loath to depart. We found 
our horses in St. Cergue ; and, that nothing might be wanting 
to our enjoyment, the moon rose, and lighted us to Nyon. 
While on the way, our strained and excited feelings were 
gradually calmed, and assumed their wonted tone ; so that 
we were able, with keen gratification, to enjoy from our inn 
window the glorious moonlight which was spread over the 
lake. 

At different spots of our travels, so much was said of the 
remarkable character of the glaciers of Savoy, and when we 
reached Geneva we were told it was becoming more and 
more the fashion to visit them, that the count 1 was seized 
with a strange desire to bend our course in that direction, 
and from Geneva to cross Cluse and Salenche, and enter the 
Valley of Chamouni, and, after contemplating its wonderful 
objects, to go on by Valorsine and Trent into Valais. This 
route, however, which was the one usually pursued by trav- 
ellers, was thought dangerous in this season of the year. A 
visit was therefore paid to M. dc Saussure at his country- 
house, and his advice requested. He assured us that we 
need not hesitate to take that route : there was no snow as 
yet on the middle-sized mountains ; and if on our road we 
were attentive to the signs of the weather and the advice of 
the country-people, who were seldom wrong in their judg- 
ment, we might enter upon this journey with perfect safety. 
Here is the copy of the journal of a day's hard travelling. 

1 The Duke Charles Augustus of Weimar, who travelled under the title of Count 
of 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 29 

Cluse in Savoy, Nov. 3, 177 ( J. 
To-day, on departing from Geneva, our party divided. 
The count, with me and a huntsman, took the route to Savoy. 
Friend W\, with the horses, proceeded through the Pays de 
Vaud for Valais. In a light four-wheeled cabriolet we pro- 
ceeded first of all to visit Hiiber at his country-seat, — a man 
out of whom mind, imagination, and imitative tact oozes at 
eveiy pore, one of the very few thorough men we have 
met with. lie saw us well on our way ; and then we set oft" 
with the lofty snow-capped mountains, which we wished to 
reach, before our eyes. From the Lake of Geneva, the 
mountain-chains verge towards each other, to the point where 
Bonneville lies, halfway between the Mole, a considerable 
mountain, and the Arve. There we took our dinner. L>e- 
liind the town the valley closes right in. Although not very 
broad, it lias the Arve flowing gently through it, and is on the 
southern side well cultivated ; and everywhere the soil is put 
to some profit. From the early morning, we had been in 
fear of its raining, some time at least before night ; but the 
clouds gradually quitted the mountains, and dispersed into 
fleeces, — a sign which lias more than once in our experience 
proved a favorable omen. The air was as warm as it usu- 
ally is in the beginning of September, and the country we 
travelled through beautiful ; many of the trees being still 
green. Most of them had assumed a brownish-yellow tint, 
but only a few were quite bare. The crops were rich and 
verdant. The mountains caught from the red sunset a 
rosy hue, blended with violet ; and all these rich tints were 
combined with grand, beautiful, and agreeable forms of the 
landscape. We talked over much that was good. Towards 
five we came towards Cluse, where the valley closes, and 
lias only one outlet, through which the Arve issues from the 
mountains, and by which, also, we propose to enter them to- 
morrow. We ascended a lofty eminence, and saw beneath 
us the city, partly built on the; slightly inclined side of a 
rock, but partly on the flat portion of the valley. Our eyes 
ranged with pleasure over the valley ; and, sitting on the 
granite rocks, we awaited the coming of night in calm and 
varied discourse. Towards seven, as we descended, it was 
not at all colder than it is usually in summer about nine. 
At a miserable inn (where, however, the people were ready 
and willing, and by their patois afforded us much amuse- 
ment) we are now going, about ten o'clock, lo bed, intend- 
ing t<> set out early to-morrow, before the morning shall dawn. 



30 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

Salenche, Nov. 4, 1779. 
Noon. 

Whilst a dinner is being prepared by very willing hands. 
I will attempt to set down the most remarkable incidents of 
onr yesterday's journey, which commenced with the early 
morning. With break of day we set out on foot from Cluse, 
taking the road towards Balme. In. the valley the air was 
agreeably fresh. The moon, in her last quarter, rose bright 
before the sun, and charmed us with the sight, as being one 
which we do not often see. Single light vapors rose upwards 
from all the chasms in the rocks. It seemed as if the morn- 
ing air were awakening the young spirits, who took pleasure 
in meeting the sun with expanded bosoms, and gilding them 
in his rays. The upper heaven was perfectly clear, except 
where now and then a single cloudy streak, which the rising 
sun lit up, swept lightly across it. Balme is a miserable 
village, not far from the spot where a rocky gorge runs off 
from the road. We asked the people to guide us through 
the cave for which the place is famous. At this they kept 
looking at one another, till at last one said to the second, 
" Take you the ladder, I will carry the rope : come, gentle- 
men." This strange invitation did not deter us from follow- 
ing them. Our line of descent passed, first of all, among 
fallen masses of limestone rock, which by the course of 
time had been piled up, step by step, in front of the pre- 
cipitous wall of rock, and were now overgrown with bushes 
of hazel and beech. Over these you reach, at last, the 
strata of the rock itself, which you have to climb up slowly 
and painfully, by means of the ladder and of the steps 
cut into the rock, and by help of branches of the nut- 
trees which hung over head, or of pieces of rope tied to 
them. After this you find yourself, to your great satisfac- 
tion, in a kind of portal, which has been worn out of the 
rock by the w r eather, and overlooks the valley and the village 
below. We now prepared for entering the cave, — lighted 
our candles, and loaded a pistol, which we proposed to let 
off. The cave is a long gallery, mostly level, and on one 
strand ; in parts broad enough for two men to walk abreast, 
in others only passable by one ; now high enough to walk 
upright, then obliging you to stoop, and sometimes even to 
crawl on hands and feet. Nearly about the middle, a cleft 
runs upwards, and forms a sort of a dome. In one corner, 
another goes downwards. We threw several stones down it, 
and counted slowly from seventeen to nineteen before they 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 31 

reached the bottom, after touching the sides many times, but 
always with a different echo. On the walls a stalactite forms 
its various devices : however, it is only damp in a very few 
places, and forms, for the most part, long drops, and not 
those rich and rare shapes which are so remarkable in Bau- 
mann's Cave. We penetrated as far as we could for the 
water, and, as we came out, let off our pistol, which shook 
the cave with a strong but dull echo, so that it boomed round 
us like a bell. It took us a good quarter of an hour to get 
out again ; and, on descending the rocks, we found our car- 
riage, and drove onwards. We saw a beautiful waterfall in 
the manner of the Staubbach. Neither its height was very 
great, nor its volume very large, and yet it was extremely 
interesting, for the rocks formed around it, as it were, a cir- 
cular niche, in which its waters fell ; and the pieces of the 
limestone, as they were tumbled one over another, formed 
the most rare and unusual groups. 

We arrived here at mid-day, not quite hungry enough to 
relish our dinner, which consisted of warmed fish, cow-beef, 
and very stale bread. From this place there is no road lead- 
ing to the mountains that is passable for so stately an equi- 
page as we have with us : it therefore returns to Geneva, 
and I now must take my leave of you in order to pursue my 
route a little farther. A mule with my luggage will follow 
us as we pick our way on foot. 

Chamouni, Nov. 4, 1779. 
Evening, about nine o'clock. 

It is only because this letter will bring me for a while nearer 
to yourself, that I resume my pen : otherwise it would be 
better for me to give my mind a little rest. 

We lilt Salenche behind us in a lovely open valley. During 
our noonday's rest the sky had become overcast with white 
fleecy clouds, about which I have here a special remark to 
make. We had seen them on a bright day rise equally fine, 
if not still finer, from the glaciers of Berne. Here, too, it 
again seemed to us as if the sun had first of all attracted the 
light mists which evaporated from the tops of the glaciers, 
and then a gentle breeze had, as it were, combed the line 
vapors, like :i fleece of foam, over the atmosphere. I never 
remember at home, even in tin.' height of summer (when such 
phenomena do also occur with us), to have seen any so trans- 
parent; for here it was a perfect web of light. Before long 
the ice-covered mountains from which it rose lay before us. 



32 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

The valley began to close in. The Arve was gushing out of 
the rockc We now began to ascend a mountain, and went up 
higher and higher, with the snowy summits right before us. 
Mountains and old pine-forests, either in the hollows below, 
or on a level with, our track, came out one by one before the 
eye as we proceeded. On our left were the mountain peaks, 
bare and pointed. We felt that we were approaching a 
mightier and more massive chain of mountains. We passed 
over a dry and broad bed of stones and gravel, which the 
water-courses tear down from the sides of the rocks, and in 
turn flow among, and fill up. This brought us into an agreea- 
ble valley, flat, and shut in by a circular ridge of rocks, in 
which lies the little village of Serves. There the road runs 
round some very highly variegated rocks, and takes again the 
direction towards the Arve. After crossing the latter, you 
again ascend. The masses become constantly more imposing. 
Nature seems to have begun here with a light hand to pre- 
pare her enormous creations. The darkness grew deeper 
and deeper as we approached the Valley of Chamouni ; and 
when, at last, we entered it, nothing but the larger masses 
were discernible. The stars came out one by one ; and we 
noticed above the peaks of the summits, right before us, a 
light which we could not account for. Clear, but without 
brilliancy ; like the milky way, but closer ; something like 
that of the Pleiades, — it riveted our attention, until at last, 
as our position changed, like a p} T ramid illuminated by a 
secret light within, which could best be compared to the 
gleam of a glow-worm, it towered high above the peaks of 
all the surrounding mountains, and at last convinced us that 
it must be the peak jof Mont Blanc. The beauty of this view 
was extraordinary. For while, together with the stars that 
clustered round it, it glimmered, — not, indeed, with the 
same twinkling light, but in a broader and more continuous 
mass, — it seemed to belong to a higher sphere, and one had 
diiliculty in thought to lix its roots again in the earth. Before 
it we saw a line of snowy summits, sparkling as they rested 
on the ridges covered with the black pines ; while between the 
dark forests vast glaciers sloped down to the valley below. 

My descriptions begin to be irregular and forced : in fact, 
one wants two persons here, — one to see, and the other to 
describe. 

Here we are, in the middle village of the valley called " Le 
Prieure," comfortably lodged in a house which a widow 
caused to be built here in honor of the many strangers who 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 33 

visited the neighborhood. We are sitting close to the hearth, 
relishing our Muscatel wine from the Yallee d'Aost far bet- 
ter than the lenten dishes which were served up for our 
dinner. 

Nov. 5, 1779. Evening. 

To take up one's pen and write, almost requires as great 
an effort as to go into a cold river. At this moment I have a 
great mind to put you off by referring you to the description 
of the glaciers of Savoy, published by Bourritt, an enthusi- 
astic climber. 

Invigorated, however, by a few glasses of excellent wine, 
and by the thought that these pages will reach you much 
sooner than either the travellers or Bourritt' s book, I will do 
my best. The Valley of Chamouni, in which we are at pres- 
ent, lies very high among the mountains, and, from six to 
seven leagues long, runs pretty nearly from south to north. 
The characteristic features which to my mind. distinguish it 
from all others, are its having scarcely any flat portion ; but 
the whole tract, like a trough, slopes from the Arve gradu- 
ally up the sides of the mountain. Mont Blanc and the line 
of mountains which runs off from it, and the masses of ice 
which fill up the immense ravines, make up the eastern wall 
of the valley, on which, throughout its entire length, seven 
glaciers, of which one is considerably larger than the others, 
run down to the bottom of the valley. 

The guides whom w r e had engaged to show us to the ice- 
lake came betimes. One was an active young fellow ; the 
other, much older, who seemed to think himself a very shrewd 
personage, having held intercourse with all learned foreigners, 
and being well acquainted with the nature of the ice-moun- 
tains, and a very clever fellow. He assured us, that, for 
eighl and twenty years (so long had he acted as guide), this 
was tin- first time his services had been put in requisition 
so late in the year, — after All-Saints' Day, — and yet that 
we might even now see every object quite as well as in June. 
Provided with wine and food, we began to ascend Mont 
Anvert, from which we were told the view of the ice-lake 
would be quite ravishing. Properly 1 should call it the ice- 
valley or the ice-stream; for, looking at it from above, the 
huge masses of ice force themselves out of a deep valley in 
tolerable smoot liness. Right behind it ends a sharp-pointed 
mountain, from both sides of which waves of ice run frozen 
into the principal stream. Not the slightest trace of snow 



34 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

was as yet to be seen on the rugged surfaces, and the blue 
crevices glistened beautifully. The weather, by degrees, be- 
came overcast ; and 1 saw gray wavy clouds, which seemed to 
threaten snow more than it had ever yet done. On the spot 
where we were standing is a small cabin, built of stones 
loosely piled together, as a shelter for travellers, which in 
joke has been named kt The Castle of Mont Anvert." An 
Englishman of the name of Blaire, who is residing at Geneva, 
has caused a more spacious one to be built at a more conven- 
ient spot, and a little higher up, where, sitting by a fireside, 
you catch through the window a view of the whole ice- valley. 
The peaks of the rocks over against you, as also in the val- 
ley below, are very pointed and rugged. These jags are called 
needles ; and the Aiguille du Dru is a remarkable peak of this 
kind, right opposite to Mont Anvert. We now wished to 
walk upon the ice-lake itself, and to consider these immense 
masses close at hand. Accordingly, we climbed down the 
mountain, and took nearly a hundred steps round about on 
the wave-like crystal cliffs. It is certianly a singular sight, 
when, standing on the ice itself, you see before you the masses 
pressing upwards, and divided by strangely shaped clefts. 
However, we did not like standing on this slippery surface ; 
for we were not provided with ice-shoes, nor had we nails in 
those which we ordinarily wore, and which, on the contrary, 
had become smooth and rounded with our long walk. AVe 
therefore made our w r ay back to the hut, and, after a short 
rest, were ready for returning. We descended the mountain, 
and came to the spot where the ice-stream, step by step, 
forces its way to the valley below ; and we entered the cavern, 
into which it empties its water. It is broad, deep, and of the 
most beautiful blue ; and in the cave the supply of water is 
more invariable than farther on at the mouth, since great 
pieces of ice are constantly melting and dissolving in it. 

On our road to the Auberge, we passed the house where 
there were two Albinos, — children between twelve and four- 
teen, with very white complexions, rough white hair, and 
with red and restless eyes, like those of rabbits. The deep 
night which hangs over the valley invites me to retire early 
to bed ; and 1 am hardly awake enough to tell you that we 
have seen a tame young ibex, who stands out as distinctly 
among the goats, as the natural son of a noble prince from 
the burgher's family among whom he is privately brought up 
and educated. It does not suit with our discourses, that I 
should speak of any thing out of its due order. Besides, you 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 35 

do not take much delight in specimens of granite, quartz, or 
in larch and pine trees, yet, most of all, you would desire to 
see some remarkable fruits of our botanizing. I think I am 
stupid with sleep : I cannot write another line. 

Chamouni, Nov. 6, 1770. 
Early. 

Content with seeing all that the early season allows us to 
see, we are ready to start again, intending to penetrate as far 
as Valais to-day. A thick mist covers the whole valley, and 
reaches halfway up the mountains ; and we must wait and 
see what sun and wind will yet do for us. Our guide pur- 
poses that we should take the road over the Col de Balme (a 
lofty eminence which lies on the north side of the valley, 
towards Valais), from the summit of which, if we are lucky, 
we shall be able to take another survey of the Valley of 
Chamouni, and of all its remarkable objects. 

Whilst I am writing, a remarkable phenomenon is passing 
along the sky. The mists, which are shifting about and break- 
ing in some places, allow you, through their openings, as 
through skylights, to catch a glance of the blue sky, w r hile at 
the same time the mountain peaks, rising above our roof of 
vapor, are illuminated by the sun's rays. Even without the 
hope it gives of a beautiful day, this sight of itself is a rich 
treat to the eye. 

We have at last obtained a standard for judging the heights 
of the mountains. It is at a considerable height above the 
valley that the vapor rests on the mountains. At a still 
greater height are clouds, which have floated off upwards 
from the top of the mist ; and then far above these clouds 
you see the summits glittering in the sunshine. 

It is time to go. I must bid farewell to this beautiful val- 
ley and to you. 

Martinac in Valais, Nov. G, 1779. 
Evening. 

We have made the passage across without any mishap, and 
so this adventure is over. The joy of our good luck will 
keep my pen going merrily for a good half-hour yet. 

Having packed our luggage on a mule, we set out early 
(about nine) from Prieure. The clouds shifted, so that the 
peaks were now visible, and then were lost again : at one 
moment the sun's rays came in streaks on the valley, at 
the next the whole of it was again in shade. We went up the 



36 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

valley, passing the outlet of the ice-stream, then the glacier 
d'Argentiere, which is the highest of the five : the top of it, 
however, was hidden from our view by the clouds. On the 
plain we held a council whether we should or not take the 
route over Col de Balme, and abandon the road over Valor- 
sine. The prospect was not the most promising : however, 
as here there was nothing to lose, and much, perhaps, to gain, 
we took our way boldly towards the dark region of mists and 
clouds. As we approached the Glacier du Tour, the clouds 
parted, and we saw this glacier also in full light. We sat 
down a while, and drank a flask of wine, and took something 
to eat. We now mounted towards the sources of the Arve, 
passing over rugged meadows, and patches scantily covered 
with turf, and came nearer and nearer to the region of mists, 
until at last we entered right into it. AVe went on patiently 
for a while, till at last, as we got up higher, it began again to 
clear above our heads. It lasted for a short time: so we 
passed right out of the clouds, and saw the whole mass of 
them beneath us, spread over the valley, and were able to see 
the summits of all the mountains on the right and left that 
enclosed it, with the exception of Mont Blanc, which was 
covered with clouds. We were able to point them out one 
by one, and to name them. In some we saw the glaciers 
reaching from their summits to their feet : in others we could 
onl} T discern their tracks, as the ice was concealed from our 
view by the rocky sides of the gorges. Beyond the whole of 
the flat surface of the clouds, except at its southern extrem- 
ity, we could distinctly see the mountains glittering in the 
sunshine. Why should I enumerate to you the names of 
summits, peaks, needles, icy and snowy masses, when their 
mere designations can furnish no idea to your mind, either 
of the whole scene or of its single objects? 

It was quite singular how the spirits of the air seemed to 
be waging war beneath us. Scarcely had we stood a few 
minutes enjoying the grand view, when a hostile ferment 
seemed to arise within the mist ; and it suddenly rose upwards, 
and threatened once more to envelop us. We commenced 
stoutly ascending the height, in the hope of yet a while escap- 
ing from it ; but it outstripped us, and enclosed us on all 
sides. However, perfectly fresh, we continued to mount ; 
and soon there came to our aid a strong wind, blowing from 
the mountain. Blowing over the saddle which connected two 
peaks, it drove the mist back again into the valley. This 
strange conflict was frequently repeated ; and at last, to our 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 37 

joy, we reached the Col de Balme. The view from it was 
singular, indeed unique. The sky above the peaks was over- 
cast with clouds : below, through the many openings in the 
mist, we saw the whole of Chamouni, and between these two 
layers of cloud the mountain summits were all visible. On 
the east we were shut in by rugged mountains : on the west 
we looked down on wild valleys, where, however, on every 
green patch, human dwellings were visible. Before us lay the 
Valley of Valais, where, at one glance, the eye took in moun- 
tains piled in every variety of mass, one upon another, and 
stretching as far as Martinac, and even beyond it. Surround- 
ed on all sides by mountains, which, farther on towards the 
horizon, seemed continually to multiply, and to tower higher 
and higher, we stood on the confines of Valais and Savoy. 

Some contrabandists, who were ascending the mountains 
with their mules, were alarmed at seeing us ; for at this sea- 
son they did not reckon on meeting with any one at this spot. 
They fired a shot to intimate that they were armed, and one 
advanced before the rest to reconnoitre. Having recognized 
our guide, and seen what a harmless figure we made, he re- 
turned to his party, who now approached us, and we passed 
one another with mutual greetings. 

The wind now blew sharp ; and it began to snow a little as 
we commenced our descent, which was rough and wild 
enough, through an ancient forest of pines, which had taken 
root on the faces of the gneiss. Torn up by the winds, the 
trunks and roots lay rotting together ; and the rocks, which 
were loosened at the same time, were lying in rough masses 
among them. 

At last we reached the valley where the River Trent takes 
its rise from a glacier, and passing the village of Trent, close 
upon our right, we followed the windings of the valley along 
a rather inconvenient road, and about six reached Martinac, 
which lies in the flatter portion of the Valais. Here we must 
refresh ourselves for further expeditions. 

Martinac, Nov. G, 1770. 
Evening. 

Just as our travels proceed uninterruptedly, so my let- 
ters, one after another, keep up my conversation with you. 
Scarcely have I folded and put aside the conclusion of 
''Wanderings through Savoy," ere I take up another sheet 
of paper in order to acquaint you with all that we have 
further in contemplation. 



38 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

It was night when we entered a country about which our 
curiosity had long been excited. As yet we have seen nothing 
but the peaks of the mountains, which enclose the valley on 
both sides, and then only in the glimmering of twilight. We 
crept into our inn, and from the window we see the clouds 
shift. We feel as glad and comfortable to have a roof over 
our heads, as children do, when with stools, table-leaves, 
and carpets they construct a roof near the stove, and therein 
say to one another that outside " it is raining or snowing," 
in order to excite a pleasant and imaginary shudder in their 
little souls. It is exactly so with us on this autumnal even- 
ing in this strange and unknown region. 

AVc learn from the maps that we are sitting in the angle 
of an elbow, from which the smaller part of Valais — running 
almost directly from south to north, and with the Rhone — 
extends to the Lake of Geneva, while the other and the larger 
portion stretches from west to east, and goes up the Rhone 
to its source, the Furca. The prospect of riding through 
the Yalais is very agreeable : our only anxiety is how we are 
to cross over into it. First of all, with the view of seeing 
the lower portion, it is settled that we go to-morrow to St. 
Maurice, where we are to meet our friend, who, with the 
horses, has gone round by the Pa} T s de Vaud. To-morrow 
evening we think of being here again, and then on the next 
day shall begin to go up the country. If the advice of M. 
de Saussure prevails, we shall perform the route to the Furca 
on horseback, and then back to Brieg over the Simplon, 
where, in any weather, the travelling is good over Domo 
d'Osula, Lago Maggiore, Bellinzona, and then up Mount 
Gothard. The road is said to be excellent, and everywhere 
passable for horses. We should best prefer going over the 
Furca to St. Gothard, both for the sake of the shorter route, 
and also because this detour through the Italian provinces 
was not within our original plan. But then what could we do 
with our horses? They could not be made to descend the 
Furca ; for, in all probability, the path for pedestrians is 
already blocked up by the snow. 

With regard to the latter contingency, however, we are 
quite at our ease, and hope to be able, as we have hitherto 
clone, to take counsel, from moment to moment, with cir- 
cumstances as they arise. 

The most remarkable object in this inn is a servant-girl, 
who, with the greatest stupidity, gives herself all the airs of 
one of our would-be delicate German ladies AVe had a 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 39 

good laugh, when after bathing our weary feet in a bath of 
red wine and clay, as recommended by our guide, we had in 
the affected hoideu to wipe them dry. 

Our meal has not refreshed us much, and after supper we 
hope to enjoy our beds more. 

St. Maurice, Nov. 7, 1770. 
Nearly noon. 

On the road it is my way to enjoy the beautiful views in 
order that I may call in one by one my absent friends, and 
converse with them on the subject of the glorious objects. 
If I come into an inn, it is in order to rest myself, to go back 
in memory and to write something to you, when many a time 
my overstrained faculties would much rather collapse upon 
themselves, and recover their tone in a sort of half-sleep. 

This morning we set off at dawn from Martinac. A fresh 
breeze was stirring witli the day, and we soon passed the old 
castle which stands at the point where the two arms of Valais 
make a sort of Y. The valley is narrow, shut in on its two 
sides by mountains highly diversified in their forms, and 
which, without exception, are of a peculiar and sublimely 
beautiful character. We came to the spot where the Trent 
breaks into the valley around some narrow and perpendicular 
rocks ; so that one almost doubts whether the river does not 
flow out of the solid rock itself. Close by stands the old 
bridge, which only last year was greatly injured by the 
stream ; while not far from it lie immense masses of rock, 
which have fallen very recent!}' from the mountains, and 
blocked up the road. The whole group together would make 
an extremely beautiful picture. At a short distance, a new 
wooden bridge has been built and a new road laid down. 

We knew that we were getting near the famous waterfall 
of Pisse Vache, and wished heartily for a peep at the sun ; 
the shifting clouds giving us some hope that our wish would 
be gratified. On the road we examined various pieces of 
granite and of gneiss, which, with all their differences, seem, 
nevertheless, to have a common origin. At last we stood 
before the waterfall, which well deserves its fame above all 
others. At a considerable height a strong stream bursts from 
a cleft in the rock, falling downward into a basin, over which 
the foam and spray is carried far and wide by the wind. The 
sun at this moment came forth from the clouds, and made 
the sight doubly vivid. Below in the spray, wherever you go, 
you have close before you a rainbow. If you go higher up, 



40 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

you still witness no less singular a phenomenon. The airy 
foaming waves of the upper stream of water, as, with their 
frothy vapor, they come in contact with the angle of vision 
at which the rainbow is formed, assume a flame-like hue, 
without giving rise to the pendent form of the bow ; so that 
at this point you have before you a constantly varying play 
of fire. 

We climbed all round, and, sitting down near it, wished we 
were able to spend whole days, and many a good hour of our 
life, on this spot. Here, too, as in so many other places 
during our present tour, we felt how impossible it was to 
enjoy and to be fully impressed with grand objects on a 
passing visit. 

We came to a village where there were some merry sol- 
diers, and we drank there some new wine. Some of the 
same sort had been set before us yesterday. It looked like 
soap and water : however, I had rather drink it than their 
sour u this year's " and " two years' old " wine. When one 
is thirsty, nothing comes amiss. 

We saw St. Maurice at a distance : it is situated just at 
the point where the valley closes in, so much as to cease to 
be any thing more than a mere pass. Over the city, on the 
left, we saw a small church, with a hermitage close to it ; and 
we hope to have an opportunity yet of visiting them both. 

We found in the inn a note from our friend, who has 
stopped at Bee, which is about three-quarters of a league 
from this place : we have sent a messenger to him. The 
count is gone out for a walk, to see the country before us. 
I shall take a morsel to eat, and then set out towards the 
famous bridge and the pass. 

After one o'clock. 

I have at last got back from the spot where one could be 
contented to spend whole days together, lounging and loiter- 
ing about, without once getting tired, holding converse with 
one's self. 

If I had to advise any one as to the best route into Valais, 
I should recommend the one from the Lake of Geneva up 
the Rhone. I have been on the road to Bee over the great 
bridge, from which you step at once into the Bernese terri- 
tory. Here the Rhone flows downwards, and the valley near 
the lake becomes a little broader. As I turned round again, 
I saw that the rocks near St. Maurice pressed together from 
both siaes, and that a small light bridge, with a high arch, 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 41 

was thrown boldly across from them over the Rhone, which 
rushes beneath it with its roaring and foaming stream. The 
numerous angles and turrets of a fortress stand close to the 
bridge, and a single gateway commands the entrance into 
Valais. I went over the bridge back towards St. Maurice, 
and even beyond it, in search of a view which I had for- 
merly seen a drawing of at Ruber's house, and by good luck 
found it. 

The count is come back. He had gone to meet the horses, 
and, mounting his gray, had outstripped the rest. He says the 
bridge is so light and beautiful, that it looks like a horse in 
the act of leaping a ditch. Our friend, too, is coming, and 
is quite contented with his tour. He accomplished the dis- 
tance from the Lake of Geneva to Bee in a few days, and 
we are all delighted to see one another again. 



Mart in ac, at about nine. 
We were out riding till late at night ; and the road seemed 
much longer returning than going, as, in the morning, our 
attention had been constantly attracted from one object to 
another. Besides, I am, for this day at least, heartily tired 
of descriptions and reflections : however, I must try hastily 
to perpetuate the memory of two beautiful objects. It was 
deep twilight, when, on our return, we reached the waterfall 
of the Pisse Vache. The mountains, the valley, and the 
heavens themselves, were dark and dusky. By its grayish 
tint and unceasing murmur you could distinguish the falling 
stream from all other objects, though you could scarcely dis- 
cern the slightest motion. Suddenly the summit of a very 
high peak glowed just like molten brass in a furnace, and 
above it rose red smoke. This singular phenomenon was the 
effect of the setting sun illuminating the snow and the mists 
which ascended from it. 

Sion, Nov. 8, 1779. 
About three o'clock. 

This morning we missed our way riding, and were delayed, 
in consequence, three hours at least. We set out from 
Martinac before dawn, in order to reach Sion in good timec 
The weather was extraordinarily beautiful, only that the sun, 
being low in the heavens, was shut out by the mountains ; so 
that the road, as we passed along, was entirely in the shade. 
The view, however, of the marvellously beautiful valley of 
Valais called up many a good and cheerful idea. We had 



42 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

ridden for full three hours along the high road, with the 
Rhone on our left, when we saw Sion before us ; and we 
were beginning to congratulate ourselves on the prospect of 
soon ordering our noon-day's meal, when we found that the 
bridge we ought to cross had been carried away. Nothing 
remained for us, we were told b} T the people who were busy 
repairing it, but either to leave our horses, and go by a foot- 
path which ran across the rocks, or else to ride on for about 
three miles, and then cross the Rhone by some other bridges. 
We chose the latter ; and we would not suffer any ill humor 
to get possession of us, but determined to ascribe this mis- 
chance to the interposition of our good genius, who intended 
to take us a slow ride through this interesting region with 
the advantage of good daylight. Everywhere, indeed, in 
this narrow district, the Rhone makes sad havoc. In order 
to reach the other bridges, we were obliged, for more than a 
league and a half, to ride over sandy patches, which, in the 
various inundations, are constantly shifting, and are useful 
for nothing but alder and willow beds. At last we came to 
the bridges, which were wretched, tottering, long, and com- 
posed of rotten timbers. We had to lead our horses over, 
one by one, and with extreme caution. We were now on 
the left side of the Valais, and had to turn backwards to get 
to Sion. The road itself was, for the most part, wretched 
and stony : every step, however, opened a fresh view, which 
was well worth a painting. One, however, was particularly 
remarkable. The road brought us up to a castle, below 
which there was spread out the most lovely scene that we 
had seen in the wiiole # road. The mountains nearest to us 
run down on both sides slantingly to the level ground, and 
by their shape give a kind of perspective effect to the 
natural landscape. Beneath us was the Valais, in its entire 
breadth from mountain to mountain, so that the eye could 
easily take it in. The Rhone, with its ever-varying windings 
and bushy banks, was flowing past villages, meadows, and 
richly cultivated highlands. In the distance you saw the 
Castle of Sion, and the various hills which begin to rise 
behind it. The farthest horizon was shut in, amphitheatre 
like, with a semicircular range of snow-capped mountains, 
which, like all the rest of the scene, stood glittering in the 
sun's meridian splendor. Disagreeable and rough was the 
toad we had to ride over: we therefore enjoyed the more, 
perhaps, the still tolerably green festoons of the vines which 
overarched it. The inhabitants, to whom every spot of 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 43 

earth is precious, plant their grape-vines close against the 
walls which divide their little holdings from the road, where 
they grow to an extraordinary thickness, and, by means of 
stakes and trellises, are trained across the road so as almost 
to form one continuous arbor. The lower grounds were 
principally meadows. In the neighborhood of Sion, however, 
we noticed some tillage. Towards this town, the scenery is 
extremely diversified by a variety of hills, and we wished to 
be able to make a longer stay in order to enjoy it. But the 
hideousness of the town and of the people fearfully disturb 
the pleasant impression which the scenery leaves. The most 
frightful goitres put me altogether out of humor. We can- 
not well put our horses any farther to-day, and therefore we 
think of going on foot to Seyters. Here in Sion the inn is 
disgusting, and the whole town has a dirty and revolting 
appearance. 

Seyters, Nov. 8, 1779. 
Night. 

As evening; had begun to fall before we set out from 
Sion, we reached here at night, with the sky above us clear 
and starry. W r e have consequently lost many a good view : 
that I know well. Particularly we should have liked to 
ascend to the Castle of Tourbillon, which is at no great 
distance from Sion : the view from it must be uncommonly 
beautiful. A guide whom we took with us skilfully guided 
us through some wretched low lands, where the water was 
out. We soon reached the heights, and had the Rhone below 
us on our right. By talking over some astronomical matters, 
we shortened our road, and have taken up our abode here 
with some very worthy people, who are doing their best to 
entertain us. When we think over what we have gone 
through, so busy a day, with its many incidents and sights, 
seems almost equal to a whole week. I begin to be quite 
sorry that I have neither time nor talent to sketch at least 
the outlines of the most remarkable objects ; for that would 
be much better for the absent than all descriptions. 



Seyters, Nov. 9, 1779. 
Before we set out, I can just bid you good-morning. The 
count is going with me to the mountains on the left, towards 
Leukerbad. Our friend will, in the mean time, stay here with 
the horses, and join us to-morrow at Leuk. 



44 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

Leukrrbad, Nov. 9, 1779. 
At the foot of Mount Gemini. 

In a little wooden house, where we have been most kindly 
received by some very worthy people, we are sitting in a 
small, low room, and trying how much of to-day's highly 
interesting tour can be communicated in words. Starting 
from Seyters very early, we proceeded for three leagues up the 
mountains, after having passed large districts laid waste by 
the mountain torrents. One of these streams will suddenly 
rise, and desolate an extent of many miles, covering with 
fragments of rock and gravel the fields, meadows, and gar- 
dens, which (at least wherever possible) the people labori- 
ously set to work to clear, in order, within two generations, 
perhaps ; to be again laid waste. We have had a gray day, 
with every now and then a glimpse of sunshine. It is im- 
possible to describe how infinitely variegated the Yalais here 
again becomes : the landscape bends and changes every 
moment. Looking around you, all the objects seem to lie 
close together ; and }'et they are separated by great ravines 
and hills. Generally we had had the open part of the valley 
below us, on the right, when suddenly we came upon a spot 
which commanded a most beautiful view over the mountains. 

In order to render more clear what it is I am attempting to 
describe, I must say a few words on the geographical posi- 
tion of the district in which we are at present. We had now, 
for three hours, been ascending the mountainous region which 
separates Yalais from Berne. This is, in fact, the great 
track of mountains which runs in oue continuous chain from 
the Lake of Geneva to Mount St. Gothard, and on which, as 
it passes through Berne, rest the great masses of ice and 
snow. Here "above" and " below " are but the relative 
terms of the moment. I say, for instance, beneath me lies a 
village ; and, in all probability, the level on which it is built 
is on a precipitous summit, which is far higher above the 
valley below than I am above it. 

As we turned an angle of the road, and rested a while at a 
hermitage, we saw beneath us, at the end of a lovely green 
meadow-land which stretched along the brink of an enor- 
mous chasm, the village of Inden, witli its white church 
exactly in the middle of the landscape, and built altogether 
on the slope of the hillside. Beyond the chasm another line 
of meadow lands and pine forests went upwards, while right 
behind the village a vast cleft in the rocks ran up the sum- 
mit. On the left hand the mountains came right down to 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 45 

us, while those on our right stretched far away into the 
distance ; so that the little hamlet, with its white church, 
formed, as it were, the focus towards which the many rocks, 
ravines, and mountains all converged. The road to Inden is 
cut out of the precipitous side of the rock, which, on your 
left going to the village, lines the amphitheatre. It is not 
dangerous, although it looks frightful enough. It goes down 
on the slope of a rugged mass of rocks, separated from the 
yawning abyss on the right by nothing but a few poor 
planks. A peasant with a mule, who was descending at the 
same time as ourselves, whenever he came to any dangerous 
points, caught his beast by the tail, lest the steep descent 
should cause him to slip, and roll into the rocks below. At 
last we reached Inden. As our guide was well known there, 
he easily managed to obtain for us, from a good-natured 
dame, some bread and a glass of red wine ; for in these parts 
there are no regular inns. 

We now ascended the high ravine behind Inden, where we 
soon saw before us the Gemmiberg (of which we had heard 
such frightful descriptions) , with Leukerbad at its foot, lying 
between two lofty, inaccessible, snow-covered mountains, as 
if it were in the hollow of a hand. It was three o'clock, 
nearly, when we arrived there ; and our guide soon procured 
us lodgings. There is properly no inn, even here ; but, in 
consequence of the many visitors to the baths at this place, 
all people have good accommodations. Our hostess had been 
put to bed the day before ; but her husband, with an old 
mother and a servant-girl, did very creditably the honors of 
the house. We ordered something to eat, and went to see 
the warm springs, which in several places burst out of the 
earth with great force, and are received in very clean reser- 
voirs. Out of the village, and more towards the mountains, 
there are said to be still stronger ones. The water has not 
the slightest smell of sulphur ; and neither at its source, nor 
in its channel, does it make the least deposit of ochre, or of 
any other earth or mineral, but, like any other clear spring- 
water, it leaves not the slightest trace behind it. As it comes 
out of the earth, it is extremely hot, and is famous for its 
good qualities. We had still time for a walk to the foot of 
the Gemmi, which appeared to us to be at no great distance. 
I must here repeat a remark that has been made so often 
already, — that, when one is surrounded with mountain scen- 
ery, all objects appear to be extremely near. AVe had a good 
league to go, — across fragments of rocks which had fallen 



46 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

from the heights, and over gravel brought down by the tor- 
rents, — before we reached the foot of the Gemini, where the 
road ascends along the precipitous crags. This is the only 
pass into the canton of Berne, and the sick have to be trans- 
ported along it in sedan-chairs. 

If the season did not bid ns hasten onward, we should 
probably to-morrow make an attempt to ascend this remark- 
able mountain : as it is, however, we must content ourselves 
with the simple view of it. On our return we saw the clouds 
brewing, which in these parts is a highly interesting sight. 
The fine weather we have hitherto enjoyed has made us 
almost entirety forget that we are in November : moreover, as 
they foretold us in Berne, the autumn here is very delightful. 
The short days, however, and the clouds, which threaten snow, 
warn us how late it is in the year. The strange drift which 
has been agitating them this evening was singularly beautiful. 
As we came back from the foot of the Gemmi, we saw light 
mists come up the ravine from Inden, and move with great 
rapidity. They continually changed their direction, going, 
now forward, now backward ; and at last, as they ascended, 
they came so near to Leukerbad, that we saw clearly that we 
must double our steps, if we would not, before nightfall, be 
enveloped in the clouds. However, we reached our quar- 
ters without accident ; and, whilst I write this, it is snow- 
ing in earnest. This is the first fall of snow that we have 
yet had ; and when we call to mind our warm ride yesterday, 
from Martinac to Sion, beneath the vine-arbors, which were 
still pretty thick with leaves, the change does appear sudden 
indeed. I have been standing some time at the door, ob- 
serving the character and look of the clouds, which are 
beautiful beyond description. It is not yet night; but at in- 
tervals the clouds veil the whole sky, and make it quite 
dark. They rise out of the deep ravines until they reach 
the highest summits of the mountains : attracted by these, 
they appear to thicken ; and, being condensed 1)3' the cold, 
they fall down in the shape of snow. It gives you an in- 
expressible feeling of loneliness to find yourself here at this 
height, as it were, in a sort of well, from which you scarcely 
can suppose that there is even a footpath to get out by, 
except down the precipice before you. The clouds which 
gather here in this valley, at one time completely hiding the 
immense rocks, and absorbing them in a w r aste, impenetrable 
gloom, or at another letting a part of them be seen, like 
huge spectres, give to the people a cast of melancholy. In 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 47 

the midst of such natural phenomena, the people are full of 
presentiments and forebodings. Clouds, a phenomenon re- 
markable to every man from his youth up, are in the flat 
countries, generally looked upon at most as something for- 
eign, something super-terrestrial. People regard them as 
strangers, as birds of passage, which, hatched under a dif- 
ferent climate, visit this or that country for a moment or 
two in passing ; as splendid pieces of tapestry, wherewith 
the gods part off their pomp and splendor from human eyes. 
But here, where they are hatched, one is enveloped in them 
from the very first, and the eternal and intrinsic energy of 
his nature feels moved at every nerve to forebode, and to 
indulge in presentiments. 

To the clouds, which with us even produce these effects, 
we pay little attention : moreover, as they are^not pushed so 
thickly and directly before our eyes, their economy is the 
more difficult to observe. With regard to all such phe- 
nomena, one's only wish is to dwell on them for a while, and 
to be able to tarry several days in the spots where they are 
observable. If one is fond of such observations, the desire 
becomes the more vivid, the more one reflects that every 
season of the year, every hour of the day, and every change 
of weather, produces new phenomena which we little looked 
for. And as no man, not even the most ordinary character, 
was ever a witness, even for once, of great and unusual 
events, without their leaving behind in his soul some traces 
or other, and making him feel himself also to be greater for 
this one little shred of grandeur, so that he is never weary 
of telling the whole tale of it over again, and has gained, at 
any rate, a little treasure for his whole life, just so is it with 
the man who has seen and become familiar with the grand 
phenomena of nature. He who manages to preserve these 
impressions, and to combine them with other thoughts and 
emotions, has, assuredly, a stock of spice w r herewith to sea- 
son the most tasteless parts of life, and to give a pervading 
relish to the whole of existence. 

I observe that in my notes I make very little mention of 
human beings. Amid these grand objects of nature, they are 
but little worthy of notice, especially where they do but come 
and go. I doubt not but that, on a longer stay, we should 
meet with many worthy and interesting people. One thing I 
think I have observed everywhere, — the farther one moves 
from the high road and the busy marts of men, the more 
people are shut in by the mountains, isolated and confined to 



48 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

the simplest wants of life, the more they draw their mainte- 
nance from simple, humble, and unchangeable pursuits, the 
better, the more obliging, the more friendly, unseliish, and 
hospitable they are. 

Leukerbad, Nov. 10, 1779. 

We are getting ready by candle-light, in order to descend 

the mountain again as soon as day breaks. I have passed 

a rather restless night. I had not been long in bed before I 

felt as if I were attacked all over with the nettle-rash. I 

soon found, however, that it was a swarm of jumping insects, 

who, ravenous for blood, had fallen upon the new-comer. 

These insects breed in great numbers in these wooden 

houses. The night appeared to me extremely long ; and 1 

was heartily glad, when, in the morning, a light was brought 

in. 

Leukerbad. 
About ten o'clock. 

We have not much time to spare : however, before we set 
out, I will give you an account of the remarkable breaking 
up of our company, which has here taken place, and also of 
the cause of it. We set out from Leukerbad with daybreak 
this morning, and had to make our way over the meadows 
through the fresh and slippery snow. W r e soon came to 
Inden, where, leaving above us on our right the precipitous 
road which we came down yesterda} T , we descended to the 
meadow lands along the ravine, which now lay on our left. 
It is extremely wild, and overgrown with trees ; but a very 
tolerable road runs down into it. Through the clefts in the 
rock, the water which comes down from Leukerbad has its 
outlets into the Valais. High up on the side of the hill 
which yesterday we descended, we saw an aqueduct skil- 
fully cut out of the rock, by which a little stream is con- 
ducted from the mountain, then through a hollow into a 
neighboring village. 

Next we had to ascend a steep height, from which we soon 
saw the open country of Valais, with the dirty town of Valais 
lying beneath us. These little towns are mostly stuck on 
the hillsides, the roofs inelegantly covered with coarsely split 
planks, which within a year become black, and overgrown 
with moss ; and when you enter them you are at once dis- 
gusted, for every thing is dirty. Want and hardship are 
everywhere apparent among these highly privileged and free 
burghers. 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 49 

We found here our friend, who brought the unfavorable 
report, that it was beginning to be injudicious to proceed 
farther with the horses. The stables were everywhere small 
and narrow, being built only for mules or sumpter-horses ; 
oats, too, were rarely to be procured : indeed, he was told, 
that, higher up among the mountains, there were none to 
be had. Accordingly a council was held. Our friend, with 
the horses, was to descend the Valais, and go by Bee, 
Vevay, Lausanne, Freiburg, and Berne, to Lucerne ; while 
the count and I pursued our course up the Valais, and en- 
deavored to penetrate to Mount Gothard, aud then through 
the canton of tJri, and by the lake of the Forest Towns, like- 
wise make for Lucerne. In these parts you may anywhere 
procure mules, which are better suited to these roads than 
horses ; and to go on foot is, after all, the most agreeable 
mode of travel. Our friend is gone, and our portmanteaus 
packed on the back of a mule, and so we are now ready to 
set off, and make our way on foot to Brieg. The sky has a 
motley appearance : still I hope that the good luck which has 
hitherto attended us, and attracted us to this distant spot, 
will not abandon us at the very point where we have the 
most need of it. 

Brieg, Nov. 10, 1779. 
Evening. * 

Of to-day's expedition I have little to tell you, unless you 
would like to be entertained with a long circumstantial 
account of the weather. About eleven o'clock we set off 
from Leuk, in company with a Suabian butcher's boy, — who 
had run away hither, and had found a place, where he served 
somewhat in the capacity of Hanswurst (Jack-pudding) , — 
and with our luggage packed on the back of a mule, which its 
master was driving before him. Behind us, as far as the eye 
could reach, thick .snow-clouds, which came driving up the 
lowlands, covered every thing. It was really a dull aspect. 
Without expressing my fears, I felt anxious, lest — even 
though right before us it looked as clear as it could do in 
the land of Goshen — the clouds might, nevertheless, over- 
take us ; and here, perhaps in the territory of the Valais, shut 
in on both sides by mountains, we might be covered with the 
clouds, and in one night snowed up. Thus whispered alarm, 
which got possession almost entirely of one ear : at the other, 
good courage was speaking in a confident tone, and, reprov- 
ing me for want of faith, kept reminding me of the past, and 



50 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

called my attention to the phenomena of the atmosphere 
before us. Our road went continually on towards the fine 
weather. Up the Rhone all was clear ; and, although a strong 
west wind kept driving the clouds behind us, they could not 
reach us. 

The following was the cause of this. Into the valley of 
Valais there are, as I have so often remarked already, run- 
ning down from the neighboring mountain chains, many 
ravines, which fall into it like little brooks into a great 
stream, as, indeed, all their waters flow off into the Rhone. 
Out of each of these openings rushes a current of wind, 
which has been forming in the inner valleys and nooks of 
the rocks. Whenever the principal drift of the clouds up 
the valley reaches one of these ravines, the current of the 
wind does not allow the clouds to pass, but contends with 
them and with the wind that is driving them, and thus 
detains them, and disputes with them for whole hours the 
passage up the valley. This conflict we often witnessed ; 
and, when we believed we should surely be overtaken by the 
clouds, an obstacle of this kind would again arise ; and, after 
we had gone a league, we found they had scarcely stirred 
from the spot. 

Towards evening the sky was uncommonly beautiful. As 
we arrived at Brieg, the clouds got there almost as soon as 
we : however, as the sun had set, and a driving east wind 
blew against them, they were obliged to come to a halt, and 
formed a huge crescent, from mountain to mountain, across 
the valley. The cold air had greatly condensed them ; and, 
where their edge stood out against the blue sky, it presented 
to the eye many beautiful, light, and elegant forms. It was 
quite clear that they were heavy with snow : however, the 
fresh air seemed to us to promise that much would not fall 
during the night. 

Here we are in a very comfortable inn ; and, what greatly 
tends to make us contented, we have found a roomy chamber 
with a stove in it, so that we can sit by the fireside, and take 
counsel together as to our future travels. Through Brieg 
runs the usual road to Italy, over the Simplon. Should we, 
therefore, give up our plan of going over the Furca to Mount 
St. Gothard, we shall go with hired horses and mules to 
Domo d'Ossula, Margozro, pass up Lago Maggiore, and 
then to Bellinzona, and then on to St. Gothard, and over 
Airolo, to the monastery of the Capuchins. This road is 
passable all the winter through, and good travelling for 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 51 

horses. However, to our minds it is not very inviting, 
especially as it was not in our original plan, and will not 
bring us to Lucerne till five days after our friend. We should 
like better to see the whole of the Valais up to its extreme 
limit, whither we hope to come by to-morrow evening ; and, if 
fortune favors, we shall be sitting, by about the same time 
next day, in Realp, in the canton of Uri, which is on Mount 
Gothard, and very near to its highest summit. If we then 
find it impossible to cross the Furca, the road back to this 
spot will still be open to us, and we then shall pursue from 
necessity what we will not do from choice. 

You can well believe that I have here closely examined the 
people, whether they believe that the passage over the Furca 
is open ; for that is the one idea with which I rise, and lie 
down to sleep, and occupy myself all day long. Hitherto 
our journey was like a march directed against an enemy ; 
and now it is as if we were approaching the spot where he 
has intrenched himself, and we must give him battle. Be- 
sides our mule, two horses are ordered to be ready by the 



Munster, Nov. 11, 1779. 

Evening, six o'clock. 

Again we have had a pleasant and prosperous day. This 
morning, as we set out early and in good time from Brieg, 
our host, when we were already on the road, said, u If the 
mountain (so the}' call the Furca here) should prove too 
fearful, you can easily come back, and take another route." 
With our two horses and mule we soon came upon some 
pleasant meadows, where the valley becomes so narrow that 
it is scarcely some gunshots wide. Here are some beautiful 
pasture-lands, on which stand large trees ; while pieces of 
rock lie scattered about, which have rolled down from the 
neighboring mountains. The valley gradually grows nar- 
rower ; and the traveller is forced to ascend along the side of 
the mountain, having, the while, the Rhone below him, in a 
rugged ravine on his left. Above him, however, the land is 
beautifully spread out. On the variously undulating hills are 
verdant and rich meadows and pretty hamlets, which, with 
their dark-brown wooden houses, peep out prettily from 
among the snow. W r e travelled a good deal on foot, and we 
did so in turns to accommodate one another ; for, although 
riding is safe enough, still it excites one's alarm to see 
another riding before you along so narrow a track, and 



52 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

on so weak an animal, and just on the brink of so rnggecl a 
precipice. And, as no cattle can be left in the meadows (for 
the people here shut them all up in sheds at this season), 
such a country looks lonely ; and the thought that one is 
continually being hemmed in closer and closer by the vast 
mountains fills the imagination with sombre and disagreeable 
fancies, enough to make you fall from 3*0111* seat if you are 
not very firm in the saddle. Man is never perfectly master 
of himself. As he lives in utter ignorance of the future, as, 
indeed, what the next moment may bring forth is hidden from 
him, he has often, when any thing unusual falls beneath his 
notice, to contend with involuntary sensations, forebodings, 
and dream-like fancies, at which shortly afterwards he may 
laugh outright, but which at the decisive moment are ofien 
extremely oppressive. 

In our noonda}' quarters we met with some amusement. 
We had taken up our lodgings with a woman in whose house 
every thing looked neat and orderly. Her room, after the 
fashion of the country, was wainscoted ; the beds orna- 
mented with carving ; the cupboards, tables, and all the 
other little repositories which were fastened against the walls 
or to the corners, had pretty ornaments of turner's work or 
carving. From the portraits which hung around in the room, 
it was easy to see that several members of the family had 
devoted themselves to the clerical profession. We also 
observed over the door a collection of bound books, which 
we took to be the endowment of one of these reverend per- 
sonages. We took down the " Legends of the Saints," and 
read it while our meal was preparing. On one occasion of 
our hostess' entering the room, she asked us if we had ever 
read the history of St. Alexis. We said no, and took no 
further notice of her question, but went on reading the chap- 
ter we each had begun. When, however, we had sat down 
to table, she placed herself by our sides, and began again to 
talk of St. Alexis. We asked her whether he was her patron 
saint or that of her family ; which she denied, affirming at the 
same time, however, that this saintly person had undergone 
so much for the love of God, that his history always affected 
her more than any other's. When she saw that we knew 
nothing about him, she began to tell us his history. u St. 
Alexis," she said, -'was the son of noble, rich, and God- 
fearing parents in Rome ; and in the practice of good works 
he delighted to follow their example, for they did extraor- 
dinary good to the poor. All this, however, did not appear 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 53 

enough to Alexis ; but he secretly devoted himself entirely 
to God's service, and vowed to Christ perpetual virginity. 
When, in the course of time, his parents wished to marry 
him to a lovely and amiable maiden, he did not oppose their 
will, and the marriage ceremony was concluded ; but, instead 
of retiring to his bed in the nuptial chamber, he went on 
board a vessel which he found read} r to sail, and with it 
passed over to Asia. Here he assumed the garb of a 
wretched mendicant, and became so thoroughly disguised, 
that the servants of his father who had been sent after him 
failed to recognize him. Here he posted himself near the 
door of the principal church, invariably attending the divine 
services, and supporting himself on the alms of the faithful. 
After two or three years, various miracles took place, be- 
tokening the special favor of the Almighty. In the church, 
the bishop heard a voice bidding him summon into the sacred 
temple that man whose prayer was most acceptable to God, 
and to keep him by his side while he celebrated divine wor- 
ship. As the bishop did not at once know who could be 
meant, the voice went on to announce to him the beggar, 
whom, to the great astonishment of the people, he imme- 
diately fetched into the church. St. Alexis, embarrassed by 
having the attention of the people directed to him, quietly 
and silently departed, also on shipboard, intending to pro- 
ceed still farther abroad. But, by a tempest and other cir- 
cumstances, he was compelled to land in Italy. The saint, 
seeing in all this the finger of God, was rejoiced to meet 
with an opportunity of exercising self-denial in the highest 
degree. He therefore set off direct for his native town, and 
placed himself as a beggar at the door of his parents' house. 
With their usual pious benevolence did they receive him, and 
commanded one of their servants to furnish him with lodging 
in the castle and with all necessary sustenance. This ser- 
vant, annoyed at the trouble he was put to, and displeased 
with his master's benevolence, assigned to this seeming beg- 
gar a miserable hole under some stone steps, where he threw 
to him, as to a dog, a sorry pittance of food. The saint, 
instead of suffering himself to be vexed thereat, first of all 
thanked God sincerely for it in his heart, and not only bore 
with patient meekness all this, which he might easily have 
altered, but, with incredible and superhuman fortitude, en- 
dured to witness the lasting grief of his parents and his 
wife for his absence. For he heard his much-loved parents 
and his beautiful spouse invoke his name a hundred times a 



54 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

day, and pray for his return, and he saw them waste their 
days in sorrow for his supposed absence." At this passage 
of her narrative our good hostess could not refrain her tears ; 
while her two daughters, who during the story had crept 
close to her side, kept steadily looking up in their mother's 
face. "But," she continued, "great was the reward which 
the Almighty bestowed on his constancy, giving him, at his 
death, the greatest possible proofs of his favor in the eyes 
of the faithful. For after living several years in this state, 
daily frequenting the service of God with the most fervent 
zeal, he at last fell sick, without any particular heed being- 
given to his condition by any one. One morning shortly 
after this, while the Pope was himself celebrating high mass, 
in the presence of the emperor and all the nobles, suddenly 
all the bells in the whole city of Rome began to toll, as if 
for the passing knell of some distinguished personage. 
Whilst every one was full of amazement, it was revealed to 
the Pope that this marvel was in honor of the death of the 
holiest person in the whole cit} T , who had but just died in the 
house of the noble patrician. The father of Alexis, being 
interrogated, thought at once of the beggar. He went home, 
and found him beneath the stairs, quite dead. In his folded 
hands the saintly man clutched a paper, which his old father 
sought in vain to take from him. He returned to the church, 
and told all this to the emperor and the Pope, who thereupon, 
with their courtiers and clergy, set off to visit the corpse of 
the saint. When they reached the spot, the holy father 
took the paper without difficulty out of the hands of the 
dead man, and handed it to the emperor, who thereupon 
caused it to be read aloud by his chancellor. The paper 
contained the history of the saint. Then you should have 
seen the grief of his parents and wife, which now became 
excessive, — to think that they had had near to them a son 
and husband so dear, for whom there was nothing too good 
that they would not have done ; and then, too, to know how 
ill he had been treated ! They fell upon his corpse and wept 
so bitterly, that there was not one of the bystanders who 
could refrain from tears. Moreover, among the multitude 
of the people who gradually flocked to the spot, there were 
many sick, who were brought to the body, and by its touch 
were made whole." 

When she had finished her story, she affirmed over and 
over again, as she dried her eyes, that she had never heard 
a more touching history ; and I, too, was seized with so great 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 55 

a desire to weep, that I had the greatest difficulty to hide 
and suppress it. After dinner I looked out the legend itself 
in "Father Cochem," and found that the good dame had 
dropped none of the purely human traits of the story, while 
she had clean forgotten all the tasteless remarks of this 
writer. 

We keep going continually to the window, watching the 
weather, and are at present very near offering a prayer to 
the wind and clouds. Long evenings and universal stillness 
are the elements in which writing thrives right merrily ; and 
I am convinced, that if, for a few months only, I could con- 
trive, or were obliged, to stay at a spot like this, all my 
unfinished dramas would of necessity be completed one after 
another. 

We have already had several people before us, and ques- 
tioned them with regard to the pass over the Furca ; but 
even here we have been unable to gain any precise informa- 
tion, although the mountain is only two or three leagues 
distant. We must, however, rest contented ; and we shall 
set ourselves at break of day to reconnoitre, and see how 
destiny will decide for us. However, in general, I may be 
disposed to take things as they go, it would, I must confess, 
be highly annoying to me if we should be forced to retrace 
our steps again. If we are fortunate, we shall be by to-mor- 
row evening at Realp or St. Gothard, and by noon the 
next day among the Capuchins, at the summit of the moun- 
tain. If things go unfortunately, we have two roads open 
for a retreat, — back through the whole of Valais, and by 
the well-known road over Berne to Lucerne ; or back to 
Brieg, and then by a wide detour to St. Gothard. I think 
in this short letter I have told you three times. But in fact 
it is a matter of great importance to us. The issue will de- 
cide which was in the right, — our courage, which gave us a 
confidence that we must succeed, or the prudence of certain 
persons who were very earnest in trying to dissuade us from 
attempting this route. This much, at any rate, is certain, 
that both prudence and courage must own chance to be over 
them both. And now that we have once more examined the 
weather, and found the air to be cold, the sky bright, and 
without any signs of a tendency to snow, we shall go calmly 
to bed. 



56 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

Mjnstek, Nov. 12, 1776. 

Six o'clock in the morning. 

We are quite ready, and all is packed up in order to set 
out hence with the break of day. We have before us two 
leagues to Oberwald, and from there the usual reckoning 
makes six leagues to Realp. Our mule is to follow us with 
the baggage as far as it is possible to take him. 



Realp, Nov. 12, 1779. 
Evening. 

We reached this place just at nightfall. We have sur- 
mounted all difficulties, and the knots which entangled our 
path have been cut in two. Before I tell you where we are 
lodged, and before I describe to you the character of our 
hosts, allow me the gratification of going over in thought the 
road which we did not see before us without anxiety, but 
which we have left behind us without accident, though not 
without difficulty. About seven we started from Minister, 
and saw before us the snow-covered amphitheatre of moun- 
tain summits, and took to be the Furca the mountain which 
in the background stood obliquely before it. But, as we after- 
wards learned, we made a mistake : it was concealed from 
our view by the mountains on our left and by high clouds. 
The east wind blew strong, and fought with some snow- 
clouds, chasing the drifts, now over the mountains, now up 
the valley. But this only made the snow-drifts deeper on the 
ground, and caused us several times to miss our way ; 
although, shut in as we were on both sides, we could not fail 
of reaching Oberwald eventually. About nine we actually 
got there ; and, when we dropped in at an inn, its inmates 
were not a little surprised to see such characters appear there 
this time of the year. We asked whether the pass over the 
Furca were still practicable ; and they answered, that their 
folk crossed for the greater part of the winter, but whether 
we should be able to get across, they could not tell. We 
immediately sent for some of these persons to be our guides. 
There soon appeared a strong, thick-set peasant, whose very 
look and shape inspired confidence. With him we imme- 
diately began to treat : if he thought the pass was practi- 
cable for us, let him say so, and then take one or more 
comrades and come with us. After a short pause he agreed, 
and went away to get ready and to fetch the others. In the 
mean time we paid our muleteer the hire of his beast, since 
we could no longer make any use of his mule ; and having 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 57 

eaten some bread and cheese, and drank a glass of red wine, 
felt full of strength and spirits, as our guide came back, 
followed by another man, who looked still bigger and stronger, 
and, seeming to have all the strength and courage of a horse, 
he quickly shouldered our portmanteau. And now we set 
out, a party of five, through the village, and soon reached 
the foot of the mountain, which lay on our left, and began 
gradually to ascend it. At first we had to follow a beaten 
track which came down from a neighboring Alp : soon, how- 
ever, this came to an end, and we had to go up the mountain 
side through the snow. Our guides, with great skill, tracked 
their way among the rocks around which the usual path 
winds, although the deep and smooth snow had covered all 
alike. Still our road lay through a forest of pines, while 
the Rhone flowed beneath us in a narrow, unfruitful valley. 
Into it we also, after a little while, had to descend, and, by 
crossing a little foot-bridge, we came in sight of the glacier 
of the Rhone. It is the hugest we have as yet had so full a 
view of. Being of very great breadth, it occupies the whole 
saddle of the mountain, and descends uninterruptedly down 
to the point, where, in the valley, the Rhone flows out of it. 
At this source the people tell us it has for several years been 
decreasing. But that is as nothing compared with all the rest 
of the huge mass. Although every thing was full of snow, 
still the rough crags of ice, on which the wind did not allow 
the snow to lie, were visible with their dark-blue fissures, and 
you could see clearly where the glacier ended and the snow- 
covered rock began. To this point, which lay on our left, 
we came very close. Presently we again reached a light 
foot-bridge over a little mountain-stream, which flowed 
through a barren, trough-shaped valley to join the Rhone. 
After passing the glacier, neither on the right, nor on the 
left, nor before you, was there a tree to be seen : all was one 
desolate waste, — no rugged and prominent rocks, nothing 
but long smooth valleys, slightly inclining eminences, which 
now, in the snow, which levelled all inequalities, presented to 
us their simple, unbroken surfaces. Turning now to the left, 
we ascended a mountain, sinking at every step deep in the 
snow. One of our guides had to go first, and, boldly tread- 
ing down the snow, break the way by which we were to follow. 
It was a strange sight, when, turning for a moment your 
attention from the road, you directed it to yourself and your 
fellow-travellers. In the most desolate region of the world, 
in a boundless, monotonous wilderness of mountains envel- 



58 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

oped in snow, where, for three leagues before and behind, 
3 7 ou would not expect to meet a living soul, while on Ik th 
sides 3011 had the deep hollows of a web of mountains, yoii 
might see a line of men wending their way, treading each in 
the deep footsteps of the one before him, and where, in the 
whole of the wide expanse thus smoothed over, the eye 
could discern nothing but the track they left behind them. 
The hollows as we left them lay behind us gray and bound- 
less in the mist. The changing clouds continually passed 
over the pale disk of the sun, and spread over the wdiole 
scene a perpetually moving veil. I am convinced that any 
one, wdio, while pursuing this route, allowed his imagination 
to gain the mastery, would, even in the absence of all imme- 
diate danger, fall a victim to his own apprehensions and 
fears. In realit} r , there is little or no risk of a fall here. The 
great danger is from the avalanches, when the snow has 
become deeper than it is at present, and begins to roll. 
However, our guide told us that they cross the mountains 
throughout the winter, carrying from Valais to St. Gothard 
skins of the chamois, in which a considerable trade is carried 
on here. But then, to avoid the avalanches, they do not take 
the route that we did, but remain for some time longer in 
the broad valley, and then go straight up the mountain. This 
road is safer, but much more inconvenient. After a march 
of about three hours and a half , we reached the saddle of the 
Furca, near the cross which marks the boundary of Valais 
and Uri. Even here we could not distinguish the double 
peak from which the Furca derives its name. We now hoped 
for an easier descent ; but our guides soon announced to us 
still deeper snow, as we immediately found it to be. Our 
march continued in single file, as before ; and the foremost 
man, who broke the path, often sank up to his waist in the 
snow. The readiness of the people, and their light way of 
speaking of matters, served to keep up our courage ; and 
I will say, for myself, that I have accomplished the journey 
without fatigue, although I cannot sa}' that it w r as a mere 
w T alk. The huntsman Hermann asserted that he had often 
before met w r ith equally deep snow in the forests of Thu- 
ringia ; but at last he could not help bursting out with a loud 
exclamation, " The Furca is a " — 

A vulture, or lammergeyer, swept over our heads with 
incredible rapidity. It was the only living thing that we had 
met with in this waste. In the distance we saw the moun- 
tains of the Ursi lighted up with the bright sunshine. Our 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 59 

guides wished to enter a shepherd's hut which had been 
abandoned and snowed up, and to take something to eat ; but 
we urged them to go onwards to avoid standing still in the 
cold. Here, again, is another group of valleys; and at last 
we gained an open view into the Valley of the Ursi. 

We now proceeded at a shorter pace ; and, after travelling 
about three leagues and a half from the cross, we saw the 
scattered roofs of Realp. We had several times questioned 
our guides as to what sort of an inn, and what kind of wine, 
we were likely to find in Realp. The hopes they gave us 
were any thing but good ; but they assured us that the 
Capuchins there, although they had not, like those on the 
summit of St. Gothard, an hospice, were in the habit of 
entertaining strangers. AYe should there get some good red 
wine, and better food than at an inn. We therefore sent 
one of our party forward to inform the Capuchins of our 
arrival, and procure a lodging for us. We did not loiter 
long behind, and arrived very soon after him, when we were 
received at the door by one of the fathers, — a portly, good- 
looking man. With much friendliness of manner he invited 
us to enter, and at the threshold begged that we would put 
up with such entertainment as they could offer, since at no 
time, and least of all at this season of the year, were they 
prepared to receive such guests. He therefore led us into a 
warm room, and was very busy waiting upon us, while we 
took off our boots, and changed our linen. He begged us 
once for all to make ourselves perfectly at home. As to our 
meat, we must, he said, be indulgent ; for they were in the 
middle of their long fast, which would last till Christmas Day. 
We assured him that a warm room, a bit of bread, and a 
glass of red wine, would, in our present circumstances, fully 
satisfy all our wishes. He procured us what we asked for ; 
and we had scarcely refreshed ourselves a little, ere he began 
to recount to us all that concerned the establishment, and 
the settlement of himself and fellows, on this waste spot. 
"We have not," he said, " an hospice, like the fathers on 
Mount St. Gothard : we are here in the capacity of parish 
priests, and there are three of us. The duty of preaching 
falls to my lot : the second father has to look after the 
school ; and the brother, after the household." He went on 
to describe their hardships and toils, here, at the farthest 
end of a lonely valley, separated from all the world, and 
working hard to very little profit. This spot, like all others, 
was formerly provided with a secular priest ; but, an ava- 



60 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

lanche having buried half of the village, the last one had run 
away, and taken the pyx with him, whereupon he was sus- 
pended, and they, of whom more resignation was expected, 
were sent there in his place. 

In order to write all this, I had retired to an upper room, 
which is warmed from below by a hole in the floor ; and I 
have just received an intimation that dinner is ready, which, 
notwithstanding our luncheon, is right welcome news. 



About nine. 
The fathers, priests, servants, guides, and all, took their 
dinner together at a common table. The brother, however, 
who superintended the cooking, did not make his appearance 
till dinner was nearly over. Out of milk, eggs, and flour he 
had compounded a variety of dishes, which we tasted 0113 
after another, and found them all very good. Our guides, 
who took great pleasure in speaking of the successful issue 
of our expedition, praised us for our uncommon dexterity in 
travelling, and assured us that it was not every one that they 
would have undertaken the task of being guides to. They 
even confessed, also, that this morning, when their services 
were required, one had gone first to reconnoitre, and to see 
if we looked like people who would really go through all 
difficulties with them ; for they were particularly cautious 
how they accompanied old or weak people at this time of the 
year, since it was their duty to take over in safety every one 
they had once engaged to guide, being bound, in case of his 
falling sick, to carry him, even though it should be at the 
imminent risk of their own lives, and, if he were to die on 
the passage, not to leave his body behind. This confession 
at once opened the flood-gates to a host of anecdotes ; and 
each, in turn, had his story to tell of the difficulties and 
dangers of wandering over the mountains amidst which the 
people had here to live as in their proper element ; so that 
with the greatest indifference they speak of mischances and 
accidents to which they themselves are daily liable. One of 
them told a story of how, on the Candersteg, on his way to 
Mount Gemmi, he and a comrade with him (he is mentioned 
on every occasion with both Christian and surname) found 
a poor family in the deep snow, the mother dying, her boy 
half dead, and the father in that state of indifference which 
verges on a total prostration of intellect. He took the 
woman on his back, and his comrade her son ; and, thus laden. 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 61 

they had driven before them the father, who was unwilling 
to move from the spot. 

During the descent of Gemmi the woman died on his back ; 
but he brought her, dead as she was, to Leukerbad. When 
we asked what sort of people they were, and what could have 
brought them at such a season into the mountains, he said 
they were poor people of the canton of Berne, who, driven 
by want, had taken to the road at an unseasonable period of 
the year, in the hope of finding some relations either in 
Valais or the Italian canton, and had been overtaken by a 
snow-storm. Moreover, they told many anecdotes of what 
had happened to themselves during the winter journeys over 
the Furca with the chamois-skins ; on which expeditions, 
however, they always travelled in companies. Every now 
and then our reverend host would make excuses for the 
dinner, and we redoubled our assurances that we wished for 
nothing better. We also found that he contrived to bring 
back the conversation to himself and his own matters, 
observing that he had not been long in this place. He began 
to talk of the office of preaching and of the skill that a 
preacher ought to have. He compared the good preacher to 
a chapman who cleverly puffs his wares, and by his pleasant 
words makes himself agreeable to his customers. After 
dinner he kept up the conversation ; and, as he stood with his 
left hand leaning on the table, he accompanied his remarks 
with his right, and, while he discoursed most eloquently on 
eloquence, appeared at the moment as if he wished to con- 
vince us that he himself was the clever chapman. We 
assented to his observations, and he came from the lecture to 
the thing itself. He panegyrized the Roman-Catholic reli- 
gion. " We must," he said, u have a rule of faith ; and the 
great value of it consists in its being fixed, and as little as 
possible liable to change. We," he said, 4k had made Scrip- 
ture the foundation of our faith ; but it was insufficient. We 
ourselves would not venture to put it into the hands of com- 
mon men ; for holy as it is, and full as every leaf is of the 
Spirit of God, still the worldly-minded man is insensible of 
all this, and finds rather perplexities and stumbling-blocks 
throughout. What good can a mere layman extract from 
the histories of sinful men which are contained therein, and 
which the Holy Ghost has there recorded for the strengthen- 
ing of the faith of the tried and experienced children of God? 
What benefit can a common man draw from all this, when 
he is unable to consider the whole context and connection? 



62 LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

How is such a person to see his way clear out of the seeming 
contradictions which occasionally occur, out of the diffi- 
culties which arise from the ill arrangement of the books, and 
the differences of style, when the learned themselves find it 
so hard, and while so many passages make them hold their 
reason in abeyance? What ought we, therefore, to teach? 
A rule of faith founded on Scripture, and proved by the best 
of commentaries? But w r ho, then, is to comment upon Scrip- 
ture? Who is to set up this rule? I, perhaps, or some other 
man? By no means. Every man has his own way of taking 
and seeing things, and represents them after his own ideas. 
That would be to give to the people as many systems of 
doctrines as there are heads in the world, and to produce 
inexplicable confusion, as indeed had already been done. No : 
it remains for the Holy Church alone to interpret Scripture, 
to determine the rule by which the souls of men are to 
be guided and governed. And what is the Church? It is 
not any single supreme head, or any particular member alone. 
No ! it is all the holiest, most learned, and most experienced 
men of all times, who, with the co-operation of the Holy 
Spirit, have successively combined in building up that great, 
universal, and agreeing body, which has its great councils for 
its members to communicate their thoughts to one another, 
and for mutual edification ; which banishes error, and there- 
by imparts to our holy religion a certainty and a stability 
such as no other profession can pretend to, and gives it a 
foundation, and strengthens it with bulwarks which even 
hell cannot overthrow. And just so it is with the text of 
the Sacred Scriptures. We have," he said, ''the Vulgate, 
moreover, an approved version of the Vulgate, and of every 
sentence a commentary which the Church itself has accred- 
ited. Hence arises that uniformity of our teaching which 
surprises every one. Whether," he continued, "you hear 
me preach in this most remote corner of the world, or, in the 
great capital of a distant country, are listening to the dullest 
or cleverest of preachers, all will hold one and the same lan- 
guage. A Catholic Christian will always hear the same doc- 
trine : everywhere will he be instructed and edified in the 
same manner. And this is what constitutes the certainty of 
our faith, what gives us the peace and confidence by which 
we in life hold sure communion with our brother Catholics, 
and at death we can calmly part in the sure hope of meeting 
one another again." 

In his speech, as in a sermon, he let the subjects follow in 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 63 

due order, and spoke more from an inward feeling of satisfac- 
tion that lie was exhibiting himself under a favorable aspect 
than from any bigoted anxiety for conversion. During the 
delivery he would occasionally change the arm lie rested upon, 
or draw them both into the arms of his gown, or let them rest 
on his portly stomach ; now and then he would, with much 
grace, draw his snuff-box out of his capote, and, after using 
it, replace it with a careless ease. We listened to him atten- 
tively, and he seemed to be quite content with our way of 
receiving his instructions. How greatly amazed would he 
have been if an angel had revealed to him at the moment, 
that lie was addressing his peroration to a descendant of 
Frederick the Wise ! 



Nov. 13, 1779. 
Among the Capuchins, on the summit of Mount St. Gothard. 
Morning, about ten o'clock. 

At last we have fortunately reached the utmost limits of 
our journey. Here it is determined we shall rest a while, and 
then turn our steps towards our dear fatherland. Very strange 
are my feelings here, on this summit, where, four years ago, I 
passed a few days with very different anxieties, sentiments, 
plans, and hopes, and at a very different season of the year, 
when, without any foreboding of my future fortunes, but 
moved by I know not what, I turned my back upon Italy, and 
ignorantly went to meet my present destiny. I did not even 
recognize the house again. Some time ago it was greatly 
injured by an avalanche ; and the good fathers took advantage 
of this opportunity, and made a collection throughout the 
canton for enlarging and improving their residence. Both of 
the two fathers who reside here at present are absent ; but, 
as I hear, they are still the same that I met four years ago. 
Father Seraphin, who has now passed fourteen years in this 
post, is at present at Milan ; and the other is expected to-day 
from Airolo. In this clear atmosphere the cold is awful. 
As soon as dinner is over, I will continue my letter ; for I 
see clearly we shall not go far outside the door. 



After dinner. 

It is getting colder and colder. One does not like to stir 

from the stove. Indeed, it is most delightful to sit upon it, 

which in this country, where the stoves are made of stone 

tiles, it is veiy easy to do so. First of all, therefore, we will 



6± LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

tell you of our departure from Realp, and then of our jour- 
ney hither. 

Yesterday evening, before we retired to our beds, the good 
father would show us his bedroom, where every thing was in 
nice order, in a very small space. His bed, which consisted 
of a bag of straw, with a woollen coverlid, did not appear to 
us to be any thing very meritorious, as we ourselves had often 
put up with no better. With great pleasure and internal sat- 
isfaction he showed us every thing, — his book-case and all 
other things. We praised all that we saw ; and, parting on 
the best terms with each other, we retired for the night. In 
furnishing our room, in order that two beds might stand 
against one wall, both had been made unusually small. This 
inconvenience kept me long awake, until I thought of reme- 
dying it by placing four chairs together. It was quite broad 
daylight before we awoke this morning. When we went 
down, we found nothing but happy and friendly faces. Our 
guides, on the point of entering upon their return over yes- 
terday's beautiful route, seemed to look upon it as an epoch, 
and as a history with which hereafter they would be able to 
entertain other strangers ; and, as they were well paid, the 
idea of an adventure became complete in their minds. After 
this, we made a capital breakfast, and departed. 

Our road now lay through the Valley of the Uri, which is 
remarkable as having, at so great an elevation, such beautiful 
meadows, and pasturage for cattle. They make here a cheese 
which I prefer to all others. No trees, however, grow here. 
Sally-bushes line all the brooks, and on the mountains little 
shrubs grow thickly together. Of all the countries that I 
know, this is to me the loveliest and most interesting, — 
whether it is that old recollections make it precious to me, or 
that the reception of such a long chain of Nature's wonders 
excites within me a secret and inexpressible feeling of enjoy- 
ment. I take it for granted that you bear in mind that the 
whole country through which I am leading you is covered 
with snow, and that rock and meadow alike are snowed over. 
The sky has been quite clear, without a single cloud ; the hue 
far deeper than one is accustomed to see in low and flat 
countries ; and the white mountain-ridges, which stood out in 
strong contrast to it, were either glittering in the sunshine, or 
else took a grayish tint in the shade. 

In an hour and a half we reached Hopital, — a little village 
within the canton of Uri, which lies on the road to St. Go- 
thard. Here, at last, I regained the track of my former tour. 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 65 

We entered an inn, and, though it was as yet morning, or- 
dered a dinner, and soon afterward began to ascend the sum- 
mit. A long train of mules, with their bells, enlivened the 
whole region. It is a sound which awakens all one's recol- 
lections of mountain scenery. The greater part of the train 
was in advance of us, and, with their sharp iron shoes, had 
pretty well cut up the smooth, icy road. We also saw some 
laborers who were employed in covering the slippery ice with 
fresh earth in order to render it passable. The wish which 
I formerly gave utterance to, that I might one day be per- 
mitted to see this part of the world under snow, is now at 
last gratified. The road goes up the Reuss, as it dashes 
down over rocks all the way, and forms everywhere the most 
beautiful waterfalls. We stood a long while attracted by the 
singular beauty of one, which, in considerable volume, was 
dashing over a succession of dark black rocks. Here and 
there, in the cracks and on the flat ledges, pieces of ice had 
formed ; and the water seemed to be running over a varie- 
gated black-and-white marble. The masses of ice glistened 
in the sun like veins of crystal, and the water flowed pure 
and fresh between them. 

On the mountains, there are no more tiresome fellow-trav- 
ellers than a train of mules, they have so unequal a pace. 
With a strange instinct, they always stop a while at the bot- 
tom of a steep ascent, and then dash off at a quick pace up 
it, to rest again at the top. Very often, too, they will stop 
at the level spots, which do occur now and then, until they 
are forced on by the drivers, or by other beasts coming up. 
And so the foot-passenger, by keeping a steady pace, soon 
gains upon them, and in the narrow road has to push by 
them. If you stand still a little while to observe any object, 
they, in their turn, will pass by you, and you are pestered 
with the deafening sound of their bells, and hard brushed 
with their loads, which project to a good distance on each 
side of them. In this way we at last reached the summit of 
the mountain, of which you can form some idea 1)}' fancying 
a bald skull surrounded with a crown. Here one finds him- 
self on a perfect flat surrounded with peaks. Far and near 
the eye meets with nothing but bare and mostly snow-covered 
peaks and crags. 

It is scarcely possible to keep one's self warm, especially 
as they have here no fuel but brushwood, and of that, too, 
they are obliged to be very sparing, as they have to fetch it 
up the mountains, from a distance of at least three leagues ; 



6(j LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 

for at the summit, they tell us, scarcely any kind of wood 
grows. The reverend father is returned from Airolo, so 
frozen, that, on his arrival, he could scarcely utter a word. 
Although here the Capuchins are allowed to clothe themselves 
a little more comfortably than the rest of their order, still 
their style of dress is b} r no means suited to such a climate as 
this. All the way up from Airolo, the road was frozen per- 
fectly smooth, and he had the wind in his face. His beard 
was quite frozen, and it was a long while before he recovered. 
We had some conversation together on the hardships of their 
residence : he told us how they managed to get through the 
3'ear, their various occupations, and their domestic circum- 
stances. He could speak nothing but Italian, and so we had 
an opportunity of putting to use the exercises which we had 
taken in this language during the spring. Towards evening, 
we went for a moment outside the house-door, that the good 
father might point out to us the peak which is considered to 
be the highest summit of Mount Gothard. But we could 
scarcely endure to stay out a very few minutes, so searching 
and pinching was the cold. This time, therefore, we shall 
remain close shut up within doors, and shall have time 
enough, before we start to-morrow, to travel again, in thought, 
over all the most remarkable parts of this region. 

A brief geographical description will enable you to under- 
stand how remarkable the point is at which we are now sit- 
ting. St. Gothard is not, indeed, the highest mountain of 
Switzerland (in Savoy, Mont Blanc has a far higher eleva- 
tion) ; and yet it maintains above all others the rank of a king 
of mountains, because all the great chains converge together 
around it, and all rest upon it as on their base. Indeed, if 
I do not make a great mistake, I think I was told at Berne, 
by Herr Wyttenbach, who from its highest summit had seen 
the peaks of all the others, that the latter all leaned towards 
it. The mountains of Schweitz and Unterwalden, joined by 
those of Uri, range from the north ; from the east, those of the 
Grisons ; from the south, those of the Italian cantons ; while 
from the west, by means of the Furca, the double line of 
mountains which enclose Valais presses upon it. Not far 
from this house there are two small lakes, one of which sends 
forth the Ticino through gorges and valleys into Italy ; while 
from the other, in like manner, the Reuss proceeds, till it 
empties itself in the Lake of the Forest towns. 1 Not far 
from this spot are the sources of the Rhine, which pursue an 

1 Lake Lucerne. 



LETTERS FROM SWITZERLAND. 67 

easterly course ; and if then we take in the Rhone, which rises 
at the foot of the Furca, and runs westward through Valais, 
we shall find ourselves at the point of a cross, from which 
mountain ranges and rivers proceed towards the four cardinal 
points. 



TEAVELS IN ITALY. 



AUCH IN ARCADIEN. 



TKAVELS IN ITALY. 



AUCH IN ARCADIEN. 



FROM CARLSBAD TO THE BRENNER. 

Sept. 3, 1786. 

As early as three o'clock in the morning, I stole ont of 
Carlsbad ; for otherwise I should not have been allowed to 
depart quietly. The band of friends, who, on the 28th of 
August, rejoiced to celebrate my birthday, had in some degree 
acquired a right to detain me. However, it was impossible 
to stay here any longer. Having packed a portmanteau 
merely, and a knapsack, I jumped alone into a post-chaise ; 
and by half-past eight, on a beautifully calm but foggy morn- 
ing, I arrived at Zevoda. The upper clouds were streaky 
and fleecy, the lower ones heavy. This appeared to me a 
good sign. I hoped, that, after so wretched a summer, we 
should enjoy a fine autumn. About twelve I got to Egra, 
under a warm and shining sun ; and now it occurred to me, 
that this place had the same latitude as my own native town, 
and it was a real pleasure to me once more to take my mid- 
day meal beneath a bright sky, at the fiftieth degree. 

On entering Bavaria, one comes at once on the monastery 
of Waldsassen, with the valuable domain of the ecclesiasti- 
cal lords who were wise sooner than other men. It lies in 
a dish-like, not to say caldron-like, hollow, in a beautiful 
wheat-ground, enclosed on all sides by slightly ascending 
and fertile heights. This cloister also possesses settlements 
in the neighboring districts. The soil is decomposed slate- 
clay. The marl which is found in this mineral formation, 
and which, as yet undecomposed, slowly crumbles, makes 
the earth loose and extremely fertile. The land continues 
to rise until you come to Tirschenreuth, and the waters flow 

71 



72 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

against you, to fall into the Egra and the Elbe. From Tirsch- 
enreuth it descends southwards, and the streams run towards 
the Danube. I can very rapidly form an idea of a country 
as soon as I know by examination which way even the least 
brook runs, and can determine the river to whose basin it 
belongs. By this means, even in those districts of which it 
is impossible to take a survey, one can, in thought, form a 
connection between lines of mountains and valleys. From 
the last-mentioned place begins an excellent road formed of 
granite. A better one cannot be conceived ; for, as the 
decomposed granite consists of gravelly and argillaceous 
earths, they bind excellently together, and form a solid foun- 
dation, so as to make a road as smooth as a threshing-floor. 
The country through which it runs looks so much the worse : 
it also consists of a granite-sand, lies very flat and marshy, 
and the excellent road is all the more desirable. And as, 
moreover, the roads descend gradually from this plane, one 
gets on with a rapidity that strikingly contrasts with the 
general snail's pace of Bohemian travelling. The enclosed 
billet will give you the names of the different stages. Suffice 
it to say, that, on the second morning, I was at Ratisbon ; 
and so I did these twenty-four miles * and a half in thirty- 
nine hours. As the day began to dawn, I found myself be- 
tween Schwondorf and Regenstauf ; and I observed here a 
change for the better in the cultivation of the land. The 
soil was no longer the mere debris of the rock, but a mixed 
alluvial deposit. The inundation by which it was deposited 
must have been caused by the ebb and flood, from the basin 
of the Danube, into all the valleys which at present drain 
their water into it. In this way were formed the natural 
boles {polder) on which the tillage is carried on. This 
remark applies to all lands in the neighborhood of large or 
small streams, and with this guide any observer may form 
a conclusion as to the soils suited for tillage. 

Ratisbon is, indeed, beautifully situated. The country 
could not but invite men to settle, and build a city in it, and 
the spiritual lords have shown their judgment. All the land 
around the town belongs to them : in the city itself churches 
crowd churches, and monastic buildings are no less thick. 
The Danube reminds me of the dear old Main. At Frank- 
fort, indeed, the river and bridges have a better appearance : 

1 A German mile is exactly equal to four English geographical, and to rather 
more than four and a quarter ordinary miles. The distance in the text may there- 
fore be roughly set down as one hundred and four miles English. —A. J. W. M. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 73 

here, however, the view of the northern suburb, Stadt-am- 
hof, looks very pretty, as it lies before 3*011 across the river. 

Immediately on my arrival I betook myself to the College 
of the Jesuits, where the annual play was being acted by the 
pupils. I saw the end of the opera and the beginning of 
the tragedy. They did not act worse than many an unexpe- 
rienced company of amateurs, and their dresses were beau- 
tiful, almost too superb. This public exhibition also served 
to convince me still more strongly of the worldly prudence 
of the Jesuits. They neglect nothing that is likely to pro- 
duce an effect, and contrive to practise it with interest and 
care. In this there is not merely prudence, such as we 
understand the term abstractedly : it is associated with a 
real pleasure in the matter in hand, a S}~mpathy and a fellow- 
feeling, a taste, such as arises from the experience of life. 
As this great societ}' has among its members organ-builders, 
sculptors, and gilders, so, assuredly, there are some who pat- 
ronize the stage with learning and taste ; and, just as they 
decorate their churches with appropriate ornaments, these 
clear-sighted men take advantage of the world's sensual eye 
by an imposing theatre. 

To-day I am writing in latitude forty-nine degrees. The 
weather promises to be fair, and even here the people com- 
plain of the coldness and wet of the past summer. The 
morning was cool, but it was the beginning of a glorious and 
temperate day. The mild atmosphere which the mighty river 
brings with it is something quite peculiar. The fruits are 
nothing very surprising. I have tasted, indeed, some excel- 
lent pears ; but I am longing for grapes and figs. 

My attention is riveted by the actions and principles of 
the Jesuits. Their churches, towers, and buildings have 
a something great and perfect in their plan, which imposes 
all beholders with a secret awe. In the decoration, gold, 
silver, metal, and polished marble are accumulated in such 
splendor and profusion as must dazzle the beggars of all 
ranks. Here and there one fails not to meet with something 
in bad taste in order to appease and to attract humanity. 
This is the general character of the external ritual of the 
Roman-Catholic Church ; but I have never seen' it applied 
with so much shrewdness, tact, and consistency as among 
the Jesuits. Here all tends to this one end. Unlike the 
members of the other spiritual orders, they do not continue; 
an old. worn-out ceremonial, but, humoring the spirit of the 
age, continually deck it out with fresh pomp and splendor. 



74 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

A rare stone is quarried here into blocks. In appearance 
it is a species of conglomerate : however, it must be held to 
be older, more primary, and of a porphyritic nature. It is 
of a greenish color, mixed with quartz, and is porous : in it 
are found large pieces of very solid jasper, in which, again, 
are to be seen little round pieces of a kind of breccia. A 
specimen would have been very instructive, and one could 
not help longing for one. The rock, however, was too solid ; 
and I had taken a vow not to load myself with stones on this 
journey. 

Munich, Sept. 6, 1786. 

At half-past twelve on the 5th of September, I set off 
for Ratisbon. At Abbach the country is beautiful, while 
the Danube dashes against limestone rocks as far as Saal ; 
the limestone somewhat similar to that at Osteroda, on the 
Hartz, — close, but, on the whole, porous. By six a.m. I 
was in Munich ; and, after having looked about me for some 
twelve hours, I will notice only a few points. In the Sculp- 
ture Gallery I did not find myself at home. I must practise 
my e3 T e, first of all, on paintings. There are some excellent 
things here. The sketches of Rubens from the Luxembourg 
Gallery caused me the greatest delight. 

Here, also, is the rare to} 7 , a model of Trajan's Pillar. 
The material Icqiis-lazuli, and the figures in gilt. m It is, at 
any rate, a rare piece of workmanship, and in this light 
one takes pleasure in looking at it. 

In the Hall of the Antiques I soon felt that my eye was 
not much practised on such objects. On this account I was 
unwilling to stay long there, and to waste my time. There 
was much that did not take my fancy, without my being able 
to say why. A Drusus attracted my attention ; two Anto- 
nines pleased me, as also did a few other things. On the 
whole, the arrangement of the objects was not happy, al- 
though there is an evident attempt to make a display with 
them ; and the hall, or rather the museum, would have a good 
appearance if it were kept in better repair and cleaner. In 
the Cabinet of Natural History I saw beautiful things from 
the Tyrol, which in smaller specimens I was already ac- 
quainted with, and indeed possessed. 

I was met by a woman with figs, which, as the first, tasted 
delicious ; but the fruit in general is not good, considering 
the latitude of forty-eight degrees. Every one is complain- 
ing here of the wet and cold. A mist, which might well be 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 75 

called a rain, overtook me this morning early, before I reached 
Munich. Throughout the day the wind has continued to 
blow cold from off the Tyrolese mountains. As I looked 
towards them from the tower, I found them covered, and the 
whole heavens shrouded with clouds. Now, at setting, the 
sun is shining on the top of the ancient tower, which stands 
right opposite to my window. Pardon me that I dwell so 
much on wind and weather. The traveller by land is almost 
as much dependent upon them as the voyager by sea ; and it 
would be a sad thing if nry autumn in foreign lands should be 
as little favored as my summer at home. 

And now straight for Innspruck. What a deal I pass 
over, both on my right and on my left, in order to carry out 
the one thought which has become almost too old in my soul ! 

Mittelwald, Sept. 7, 1786. 

It seems as if my guardian-spirit had said "Amen" to 
my "Credo," and I thank him that he has brought me to 
this place on so fine a day. My last postilion said, with a 
joyous exclamation, it was the first in the whole summer. I 
cherish in quiet my superstition that it will long continue so : 
however, my friends must pardon me if again I talk of air 
and clouds. 

As I started from Munich, about five o'clock, the sky had 
cleared. On the mountains of the Tyrol the clouds stood in 
huge masses. Nor did the streaks in the lower regions move. 
The road lies on the heights, over hills of alluvial gravel, 
while below one sees the Isar flowing slowly. Here the 
work of the inundations of the primal oceans becomes con- 
ceivable. In many granite rubbles I found the counterparts 
of the specimens in my cabinet, for which I have to thank 
Knebel. 

The mists rising from the river and the meadows hung 
about for a time ; but at last the} r , too, dispersed. Between 
these gravelly hills, which you must think of as extending, 
both in length and breadth, for many leagues, is a highly 
beautiful and fertile region like that in the. basin of the 
Regen. Now one comes again upon the Isar, and observes 
in its channel a precipitous section of the gravel-hills, at 
least a hundred and fifty feet high. I arrived at Wolfraths- 
hausen, and reached the eight and fortieth degree. The sun 
was scorching hot. No one relies on the fine weather. Every 
one is complaining of the past year, and bitterly weeping 
over the arrangements of Providence. 



76 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

And now a new world opened upon me. I was approach- 
ing the mountains, which stood out more and more distinctly. 

Benedictbeuern has a glorious situation, and charms one at 
the first sight. On a fertile plain is a long and broad white 
building, and behind it a broad and lofty ridge of rocks. 
Next, one ascends to the Kochel-see, and, still higher on the 
mountains, to the "Walchen-see. Here I greeted the first 
snow-capped summit, and, in the midst of my admiration at 
being so near the snowy mountains, I was informed that 
yesterday it had thundered in these parts, and that snow 
had fallen on the heights. From these meteoric tokens 
people draw hopes of better weather, and from this early 
snow anticipate change in the atmosphere. The rocks 
around me are all of limestone, of the oldest formation, and 
containing no fossils. These limestone mountains extend, 
in vast, unbroken ranges, from Dalmatia to Mount St. 
Gothard. Hacquet has travelled over a considerable portion 
of the chain. They dip on the primary rocks of the quartz 
and clay. 

I reached Walchen-see about half-past four. About 
three miles from this place I met with a pretty adventure. 
A harper and his daughter, a little girl of about eleven years, 
were walking before me, and he begged of me to take up 
his child. He went on with his instrument. I let her sit by 
my side ; and she very carefully placed at her feet a large 
new box, — a pretty and accomplished creature, and already 
pretty well acquainted with the world. She had been on a 
pilgrimage on foot, with her mother, to Maria Einsiedel ; and 
both had determined to go upon the still longer journey to 
St. Jago of Compostella, when her mother was carried off by 
death, and was unable to fulfil her vow. It was impossible, 
she thought, to do too much in honor of the Mother of God. 
After a great fire, in which a whole house was burnt to the 
lowest foundation, she herself had seen the image of the 
Mother of God, which stood over the door, beneath a glass 
frame, — image and glass both uninjured ; which was surely 
a palpable miracle. All her journeys she had taken on foot. 
She had just played in Munich, before the elector of Bavaria, 
and altogether her performances had been witnessed by one 
and twenty princely personages. She quite entertained me. 
Pretty, large hazel eyes, a proud forehead, which she fre- 
quently wrinkled by an elevation of the brows. She was 
natural and agreeable when she spoke, and especially when 
she laughed out loud with the free laugh of childhood. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 77 

AYhen, on the other hand, she was silent, she seemed to have 
a meaning in it, and, with her upper lip, had a sinister 
expression. I spoke with her on very many subjects : she 
was at home with all of them, and made most pertinent 
remarks. Thus she asked me once what tree one we came 
to was. It was a huge and beautiful maple, the first I had 
seen on my whole journey. She narrowly observed it, and 
was quite delighted when several more appeared, and she 
was able to recognize this tree. She was going, she told me, 
to Botzen, for the fair, where she guessed I, too, was hasten- 
ing. AVhen she met me there, I must buy her a fairing ; 
which, of course, I promised to do. She intended to put on 
there her new coif, which she had had made out of her earn- 
ings at Munich. She would show it to me beforehand. So 
she opened the bandbox ; and I could not do less than admire 
the head-gear, with its rich embroidery and beautiful ribbons. 
Over another pleasant prospect we felt a mutual pleasure. 
She asserted that we had fine weather before us ; for they 
always carried their barometer with them, and that was the 
harp. When the treble-string twanged, it was sure to be fine 
weather ; and it had done so yesterday. I accepted the omen, 
and we parted in the best of humors and with the hope of 
a speedy meeting. 

On the Brenner, Sept. 8, 178G. 
Evening. 

Hurried, not to say driven here by necessity, I have 
reached at last a resting-place in a calm, quiet spot just 
such as I could wish it to be. It has been a day which for 
many years it will be a pleasure to recall. I left Mittelwald 
about six in the morning, and a sharp wind soon perfectly 
cleared the sky. The cold w r as such as one looks for only in 
February. But now, in the splendor of the setting sun, the 
dark foreground thickly planted with fig-trees, and, peeping 
between them, the gray limestone rocks, and, behind all, the 
highest summit of the mountain covered with snow, and 
standing out in bold outline against the deep blue sky, fur- 
nish precious and ever-changing images. 

One enters the Tyrol by Scharnitz. The boundary line is 
marked lry a wall which bars the passa.« j through the valley, 
and abuts on both sides on the mountains. It looks well. 
On one side the rocks are fortified ; on the other they ascend 
perpendicularly. From Seefeld the road continually grew 
more interesting, and from Benedictbeuern to this place it 



78 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

went on ascending, from height to height ; while all the 
streams of the neighboring districts were making for the 
Isar. Now one caught a sight, over a ridge of rocks, of 
the Valle} 7 of the Inn ; and Inzingen lay before us. The sun 
was high and hot, so that I was obliged to throw off some of 
my coats ; for indeed, with the varying atmosphere of the 
day, I am obliged frequently to change my clothing. 

At Zierl one begins to descend into the Valley of the Inn. 
Its situation is indescribably beautiful, and the bright beams 
of the sun made it look quite cheerful. The postilion went 
faster than I wished ; for he had not yet heard mass, and 
was anxious to be present at it at Innspruck, where, as it 
was the festival of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, he 
hoped to be a devout participant. Accordingly, we rattled 
along the banks of the Inn, hurrying by Martins wand, — a 
vast, precipitous, wall-like rock of limestone. To the spot 
w r here the Emperor Maximilian is said to have lost himself, 
I ventured to descend, and came up again without a guide ; 
although it is, in any case, a rash undertaking. 

Innspruck is gloriously situated in a rich, broad valley, 
between high rocks and mountains. Every body and every 
thing was decked out in honor of the Virgin's Nativity. At 
first I had some wish to stop there, but it promised neither 
rest nor peace. For a little while I amused myself with the 
son of my host. At last the people who were to attend to 
me came in one by one. For the sake of health, and pros- 
perity to the flocks, they had all gone on a pilgrimage to 
Wilden, — a place of worship on the mountains, about three 
miles and a half from the city. About two o'clock, as my roll- 
ing carriage divided the gay, merry throng, every one was in 
holiday garb and promenade. 

From Innspruck the road becomes even still more beauti- 
ful : no powers of description can equal it. The most fre- 
quented road, ascending a gorge which empties its waters into 
the Inn, offers to the eye innumerable varieties of scenery. 
While the road often runs close to the most rugged rocks, 
indeed is frequently cut right through them, one sees the 
other side above yon slightly inclining, and cultivated with 
the most surprising skill. On the high and broad-ascending 
surface lie valleys, houses, cottages, and cabins, whitewashed, 
glittering among the fields and hedges. Soon all changed : 
the land becomes available only for pasture, until it, too, 
terminates on the precipitous ascent. 1 have gained some 
ideas for my scheme of a creation ; none, however, perfectly 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 79 

new and unexpected. I have also dreamed much of the model 
I have so long talked about, by which I am desirous to give 
a notion of all that is brooding in my own mind, and which 
in nature itself I cannot point out to every eye. 

Now it grew darker and darker ; individual objects were 
lost in the obscurity ; the masses became constantly vaster 
and grander ; at last, as the whole moved before me like some 
deeply mysterious figure, the moon suddenly illuminated the 
snow-capped summits ; and now I am waiting till morning 
shall light up this rocky chasm in which I am shut up on the 
boundary-line of the north and south. 

I must again add a few remarks on the weather, which, 
perhaps, favors me so highly in return for the great attention 
I pay to it. On the lowlands one has good or bad weather 
when it is already settled for either : on the mountains one is 
present with the beginning of the change. I have so often 
experienced this when, on my travels, or walks, or hunting- 
excursions, I have passed days and nights between the cliffs 
in the mountain forests. On such occasions a conceit occurred 
to me, which I give you as nothing better, but which, however, 
I cannot get rid of, as indeed, generally, such conceits are, of 
all things, most difficult to get rid of. I altogether look upon 
it as a truth ; and so I will now give utterance to it, especially 
as I have already so often had occasion to prove the indul- 
gence of my friends. 

When we look at the mountains, either closely or from a 
distance, and see their summits above us, at one time glitter- 
ing in the sunshine, at another enveloped in mist, swept round 
with strong clouds, or blackened with showers, we are dis- 
posed to ascribe it all to the atmosphere, as we can easily with 
the eye see and discern its movements and changes. The 
mountains, on the other hand, with their glorious shapes, lie 
before our outward senses immovable. We take them to be 
dead, because they are rigid ; and we believe them to be inac- 
tive, because they are at rest. For a long while, however, I 
cannot put off the impulse to ascribe, for the most part, to 
their imperceptible and secret influence the changes which are 
observable in the atmosphere. For instance, I believe that 
the mass of the earth generally, and therefore, also, in an 
especial way, its more considerable continents, do not exercise 
a constant and invariable force of attraction, but that this 
attractive force manifests itself by a certain pulse, which, 
according to intrinsic, necessary, and probably, also, acci- 
dental external causes, increases or decreases. Though all 



80 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

attempts by other objects to determine this oscillation may 
be too limited and rude, the atmosphere furnishes a standard 
both delieate and large enough to test their silent operations. 
When this attractive force decreases never so little, immedi- 
ately the decrease in the gravity, and the diminished elasticity 
of the air, indicate this effect. The atmosphere is now 
unable to sustain the moisture which is diffused throughout it, 
either chemically or mechanically : the clouds lower, and the 
rain falls, and passes to the lowlands. When, however, the 
mountains increase their power of attraction, then the elas- 
ticity of the air is again restored, and two important phe- 
nomena result. First of all, the mountains collect around 
their summits vast masses of clouds, hold them fast and firm 
above themselves like second heads, until, as determined by 
the contest of electrical forces within them, they pour down 
as thunder-showers, rain, or mist ; and then, on all that 
remains, the electricity of the air operates, which is now re- 
stored to a capacity of retaining more water, dissolving and 
elaborating it. I saw quite clearly the dispersion of a cloudy 
mass of this kind. It was hanging on the very highest peak : 
the red tints of the setting sun still illuminated it. Slowly 
and slowly pieces detached themselves from either end. 
Some fleecy nebulae were drawn off, and carried up still 
higher, and then disappeared ; and in this manner, by de- 
grees, the whole mass vanished, and was strangely spun away 
before my eyes, like a distaff, by invisible hands. 

If my friends are disposed to laugh at the itinerant meteor- 
ologist and his strange theories, I shall, perhaps, give them 
more solid cause for laughter by some other of my remarks ; 
for I must confess, that as my journey was, in fact, a flight 
from all the unshapely things which tormented me in latitude 
51°, I hoped in 48° to meet with a true Goshen. But I 
found myself disappointed ; for latitude alone does not make 
a climate and fine weather, but the mountain chains, espe- 
cially such as intersect the land from east to west. In these, 
great changes are constantly going on ; and the lands which 
lie to the north have most to suffer from them. Thus, far- 
ther north, the weather throughout the summer was deter- 
mined by the great Alpine range on which I am now writing. 
Here, for the last few months, it has rained incessantly, while 
a south-east or south-west wind carried the showers north- 
wards. In Italy they are said to have had line weather ; 
indeed, a little too dry, 

And now a few words on a kindred subject, — the vegeta- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 81 

ble world, which in so many ways depends on climate and 
moisture, and the height of the mountain ranges. Here, too, 
I have noticed no remarkable change, but still an improve- 
ment. In the valley before Innspruck, apples and pears are 
al tundant ; while the peaches and grapes are brought from 
the Welsh districts, or, in other words, the Southern Tyrol. 
Near Innspruck they grow a great deal of Indian corn and 
buckwheat, which they call blende. On the Brenner I first 
saw the larch, and near Schemberg the pine. Would the 
harper's daughter have questioned me about them also? 

As regards the plants, I feel still more how perfect a tyro 
I am. Up to Munich I saw, I believed, none but those I 
was well accustomed to. In truth, my hurried travelling by 
day and night was not favorable to nicer observation on such 
objects. Now, it is true, I have my " Linnaeus " at hand ; and 
his terminology is well stamped on my brain. But whence 
are the time and quiet to come for analyzing, which, if I at 
all know myself, will ever become my forte? I, therefore, 
sharpen my eye for the more general features ; and, when I 
met with the first gentiana near the Walchensee, it struck 
me that it was always near the water that I had hitherto 
noticed any new plants. 

What made me still more attentive was the influence which 
the altitude of the mountain region evidently had on plants. 
Not only did I meet there with new specimens, but I also 
observed that the growth of the old ones was materially 
altered. While, in the lower regions, branches and stalks 
were stronger and more sappy, the buds stood closer together, 
and the leaves broader, the higher you got on the mountains, 
the stalks and branches became more fragile, the buds were 
at greater intervals, and the leaves thinner and more lanceo- 
late. I noticed this in the case of a willow and of a gentiana, 
and convinced myself that it was not a case of different spe- 
cies. So also, near the Walchensee, I noticed longer and 
thinner rushes than anywhere else. 

The limestone of the Alps which I have as yet travelled 
over has a grayish tint, and beautiful, singular, irregular 
forms ; although the rock is divisible into blocks and strata. 
But as irregular strata occur, and the rock in general does 
not crumble equally under the influence of the weather, the 
sides and the peaks have a singular appearance. This kind 
of rock conies up the Brenner to a great height. In the 
region of the Upper Lake 1 noticed a slight modification. 
On a micaceous slate of dark green and gray colors, and 



82 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

thickly veined with quartz, lay a white, solid limestone, 
which, in its detritus, sparkled, and stood in great masses, 
with numberless elefts. Above it I again found micaceous 
slate, which, however, seemed to me to be of a softer texture 
than the first. Higher up still, there was to be seen a peculiar 
kind of gneiss, or rather a granitic species which approximated 
to gneiss, as in the district of Ellbogen. Here at the top, and 
opposite the Inn, the rock is micaceous slate. The streams 
which come from the mountains leave deposits of nothing 
but this stone and of the gray limestone. 

Not far from here must be the granitic base on which all 
rests. The maps show that one is on the side of the true 
great Brenner, from which the streams of a wide surrounding 
district take their rise. 

The following is my external judgment of the people. 
They are active and straightforward. In form they are 
pretty generally alike. Hazel, well-opened eyes : with the 
women, brown and well-defined eyebrows, but with the men, 
light and thick. Among the gray rocks, the green hats of 
the men have a cheerful appearance. The hats are generally 
ornamented with ribbons, or broad silk sashes, and with 
fringes, which are prettily sewn on. On the other hand, the 
women disfigure themselves with white undressed cotton caps 
of a large size, very much like men's nightcaps. These give 
them a very strange appearance ; but abroad, they wear the 
green hats of the men, which become them very much. 

I have opportunity of seeing the value the common class 
of people put upon peacock's feathers, and in general how 
every variegated feather is prized. He who wishes to travel 
through these mountains will do well to take with him a lot 
of them. A feather of this kind produced at the proper 
moment will serve instead of the ever- welcome " something 
to drink." 

Whilst I am putting together, sorting, and arranging these 
sheets, in such a way that my friends may easily take a 
review of my fortunes up to this point, and that I may at 
the same time dismiss from my soul all that I have lately 
thought and experienced, I have, on the other hand, cast 
many a trembling look on some packets of which I must 
give a good but brief account. They are to be my fellow- 
travellers : may they not exercise too great an influence on 
my next few days ! 

I brought with me to Carlsbad the whole of my manu- 
scripts in order to complete the edition of my works which 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 83 

Goschen has undertaken. The imprinted ones I had long 
possessed in beautiful transcripts by the practised hand of 
Secretary Vogel. This active person accompanied me on 
this occasion in order that I might, if necessary, command 
his dexterous services. By tins means, and with the never- 
failing co-operatioD of Herder, I was soon in a condition to 
send to the printer the first four volumes, and was on the 
point of doing the same with the last four. The latter con- 
sisted, for the most part, of mere unfinished sketches, indeed 
of fragments ; for, in truth, my perverse habit of beginning 
many plans, and then, as the interest waned, laying them 
aside, had gradually gained strength w r ith increasing years, 
occupations, and duties. 

As I had brought these scraps with me, I readily listened 
to the requests of the literary circles of Carlsbad, and read 
out to them all that before had remained unknown to the 
world, which already was bitter enough in its complaints that 
much with which it had entertained itself still remained 
unfinished. 

The celebration of my birthday consisted mainly in send- 
ing me several poems in the name of my commenced but un- 
finished works. Amono; these, one was distinguished above 

CD O 

the rest. It was called kk The Birds." A deputation of these 
happy creatures, being sent to a true friend, earnestly en- 
treat him to found at once and establish the kingdom so 
long promised to them. Not less obvious and playful were 
the allusions to my other unfinished pieces ; so that all at 
once they again possessed a living interest for me, and I 
related to my friends the designs I had formed, and the 
entire plans. This gave rise to the expression of wishes and 
urgent requests, and gave the game entirely into Herder's 
hands ; while he attempted to induce me to take back these 
papers, and, above all, to bestow upon the "Iphigenia" 
the pains it well deserved. The fragment which lies before 
me is rather a sketch than a finished piece. It is written 
in poetical prose, which occasionally falls into a sort of 
iambical rhythm, and even imitates other syllabic metres. 
This, indeed, does great injury to the effect, unless it is read 
well, and unless, by skilful turns, this defect is carefully 
concealed. He pressed this matter on me very earnestly ; 
and as I concealed from him, as well as the rest, the great 
extent of my intended tour, and as he believed I had noth- 
ing more in view than a mountain trip, and as he was always 
ridiculing my geographical and mineralogical studies, he in- 



84 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

sisted I should act much wiser, if, instead of breaking stones, 
I would put my hand to this work. I could not but give way 
to so many and well-meant remonstrances, but as yet I have 
had no opportunity to turn my attention to these matters. I 
now detach k * Iphigenia " from the bundle, and take the play 
with me as my fellow-traveller into the beautiful and warm 
country of the South. The days are so long, and there will 
be nothing to disturb reflection, while the glorious objects 
of the surrounding sceneiy by no means depress the poetic 
nerve : indeed, assisted by movement and the free air, they 
rather stimulate and call it forth more quickly and more 
vividly. 



FROM THE BRENNER TO VERONA. 

Trent, morning of the 11th September. 

After full fifty hours passed in active and constant occupa- 
tion, I reached here about eight o'clock yesterday evening, 
and soon after retired to rest ; so that I now find myself in 
condition to go on with my narrative. On the evening of 
the 9th, when I had closed the first portion of my diary, I 
thought I would try and draw the inn and post-house on the 
Brenner, just as it stood. My attempt was unsuccessful, for 
I missed the character of the place : I went home, therefore, 
in somewhat of an ill humor. Mine host asked me if I would 
not depart, telling me it was moonlight and the best travel- 
ling. Although I knew perfectly well, that as he wanted his 
horses early in the morning to carry in the after-crop (Grum- 
met), and wished to have them home again in time for that 
purpose, his advice was given with a view to his own inter- 
est, I nevertheless took it, because it accorded with my own 
inclination. The sun re-appeared, the air was tolerable. I 
packed up, and started about seven o'clock. The blue at- 
mosphere triumphed over the clouds, and the evening was 
most beautiful. 

The postilion fell asleep ; and the horses set off at a quick 
trot down hill, always taking the well-known route. When 
they came to a village, they went somewhat slower; then 
the driver would wake up, and urge them on again. And 
thus we descended at a good pace, with high rocks on both 
sides of us, or by the banks of the rapid River Etsch. The 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 85 

moon rose, and shed her light upon the massive objects 
around. Some mills which stood between primeval pine- 
trees, over the foaming stream, seemed really everlasting. 

When, at nine o'clock, I had reached Sterzingen, they 
gave me clearly to understand that they wished me off 
again. Arriving in Mittelwald exactly at twelve o'clock, 
I found everybody asleep except the postilion ; and we 
were obliged to go on to Brixen, where they again, as 
it were, eloped with me, so that at dawn of day I was 
in Colman. The postilions drove so fast that there was 
neither seeing nor hearing ; and although I could not help 
being sorry at travelling through this noble country with 
such frightful rapidity, and at night, too, as though I were 
fleeing from the place, I nevertheless felt an inward joy 
that a favorable wind was blowing from behind me, and 
seemed to hurry me towards the object of my wishes. At 
daybreak I perceived the first vineyard. A woman with 
pears and peaches met me ; and thus we went on to Teutschen, 
where I arrived at seven o'clock, and then was again hurried 
on. After I had again travelled northwards for a while, I at 
last saw in the bright sunshine the valley where Botzen is 
situated. Surrounded by steep and somewhat high moun- 
tains, it is open towards the south, and sheltered towards 
the north by the Tyrolese range. A mild, soft air pervaded 
the spot. Here the Etsch again winds towards the south. 
The hills at the foot of the mountain are cultivated with 
vines. They are trained over long but low arbor-work. The 
purple grapes are gracefully suspended from the top, and 
ripen in the warmth of the soil, which is close beneath them. 
In the bottom of the valley, which, for the most part, con- 
sists of nothing but meadows, the vine is cultivated in nar- 
row rows of similar festoons, at a little distance from each 
other; while between grows the Indian corn, the stalks of 
which at this time are high. I have often seen it ten feet 
high. The fibrous male blossom is not yet cut off, as is the 
case when fructification has ceased for some time. 

I came to Botzen in a bright sunshine. A good assem- 
blage of mercantile faces pleased me much. Everywhere 
one sees the liveliest tokens of an existence full of purpose, 
and highly comfortable. In the square, some fruit-women 
were sitting with round flat baskets, above four feet in diam- 
eter, in which peaches were arranged side by side so as to 
avoid pressure. Here I thought of a verse which I had 
seen written on the window of the inn at Katisbon : — 



86 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

"Comma les p£ches et les melons 
Sont pour la bouche d'un baron, 
Ainsi les verges et k i s batons 
Sont pour les fous, dit Salomon." 

It is obvious that this was written by a northern baron ; 
and no less clear is it, that, if he were in this country, he 
would alter his notions. 

At the Botzen fair a brisk silk-trade is carried on. 
Cloths are also brought here, and as much leather as can 
be procured from the mountain districts. Several mer- 
chants, however, came chiefly for the sake of depositing 
their money, taking orders, and opening new credits. I felt 
I could have taken great delight in examining the various 
products that were collected here ; but the impulse, the state 
of disquiet, which keeps urging me from behind, would not 
let me rest, and I must at once hasten from the spot. For 
my consolation, however, the whole matter is printed in the 
statistical papers ; and we can, if we require it, get such 
instructions from books. I have now to deal only with the 
sensible impressions, which no book or picture can give. In 
fact, I am again taking an interest in the world ; I am testing 
my faculty of observation, and trying how far I can go with 
my science and my acquirements, how far my eye is clear 
and sharp, how much I can take in at a hasty glance, and 
whether those wrinkles that are imprinted upon my heart 
are ever again to be effaced. Even in these few days, the 
circumstance that I have had to wait upon myself, and have 
always been obliged to keep my attention and presence of 
mind on the alert, has given me quite a new elasticity of 
intellect. I must now busy myself with the currency, must 
change, pay. note down, write ; while I formerly did nothing 
but think, will, reflect, command, and dictate. 

From Botzen to Trent the stage is nine leagues, and runs 
through a valley which constantly increases in fertility. 
All that merely struggles into vegetation on the higher moun- 
tains has here more strength and vitality : the sun shines 
with warmth, and there is once more belief in a Deity. 

A poor woman cried out to me to take her child into my 
vehicle, as the hot soil was 1 turning its feet. I did her this 
little service in honor of the strong light of heaven.' The 
child was strangely decked out, but 1 could get nothing 
from it in any way. 

The Etsch flows more gently in these parts, and it makes 
broad deposits of gravel in many places. On the land, near 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 87 

the river and up the hills, the planting is so thick and close 
that one fancies one thing will suffocate the other. It is a 
regular thicket of vineyards, maize, mulberry-trees, apples, 
pears, quinces, and nuts. The danewort (AtticJi) thrives 
luxuriantly on the walls. Ivy with solid stems runs up the 
rocks, on which it spreads itself. The lizards glide through 
the interstices ; and whatever has life or motion here, 
reminds one of the most charming works of art. The 
braided top-knots of the women, the bared breasts and light 
jackets of the men, the fine oxen which you see driven 
home from market, the laden asses, all combine to pro- 
duce one of Heinrich Roos's animated pictures. And when 
evening draws on, and through the calmness of the air a 
few clouds rest upon the mountains, rather standing than 
running against the sky, and as, immediately after sunset, 
the chirp of the grasshoppers begins to grow loud, one feels 
quite at home in the world, and not a mere exile. I am as 
reconciled to the place as if I were born and bred in it, and 
had now just returned from Greenland, from a whaling 
expedition. Even the dust, which here, as in our country, 
often plays about my wheels, and which has so long remained 
strange to me, I welcome as an old friend. The bell-like 
voice of the cricket is most piercing, and far from unpleas- 
ant. A cheerful effect is produced when playful boys 
whistle against a field of such singers, and 3-011 almost fancy 
that the sound on each side is raised by emulation. The 
evening here is perfectly mild, no less so than the day. 

If any one who lived in the South, or came from the 
South, heard my enthusiasm about these matters, he would 
consider me very childish. Alas ! what I express here, I 
long ago was conscious of while suffering under an 
unkindly sky ; and now I love to experience as an exception 
the happiness I hope soon to enjoy as a regular natural 
necessity. 

Trent. 

The evening of the 10th September. 

I have wandered about the city, which has an old, not to 
say a very primitive, look, though there are new and well- 
built houses in some of the streets. In the church there is a 
picture in which is represented the assembled council of the 
Jesuits listening to a sermon delivered by the general of the 
order. I should like to know what he is trying to palm 
upon them. The church of these fathers may at ouce be 



88 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

recognized from the outside by pilasters of red marble on 
the facade. The doors are covered by a heavy curtain, 
which serves to keep off the dust. I raised it, and entered a 
small vestibule. The church itself is parted off by an iron 
orating, but so that it can be entirely overlooked. All was 
;is silent as the grave, for divine service is no longer per- 
formed here. The front-door stood open, merely because 
all churches must be open at the time of vespers. 

While I stood considering the architecture, which was, I 
found, similar to other Jesuit churches, an old man stepped 
in, and at once took off his little black cap. His old faded 
black coat indicated that he was a needy priest. He knelt 
down before the grating, and rose again after a short prayer. 
When he turned round, he said to himself, half aloud, 
"Well, they have driven out the Jesuits; but the} T ought 
to have paid them the cost of the church. I know how 
many thousands were spent on the church and the semi- 
nary." As he uttered this, he left the spot, and the cur- 
tain fell behind him. I lifted it again, and kept quiet. 
He remained a while standing on the topmost step, and said, 
"The emperor did not do it: the pope did it." With his 
face turned towards the street, so that he could not observe 
me, he continued, "First the Spaniards, then we, then the 
French. The blood of Abel cries out against his brother 
Cain ! ' And thus he went down the steps, and along the 
street, still talking to himself. I should conjecture he is 
one, who, having been maintained by the Jesuits, has lost 
his wits in consequence of the tremendous fall of the order, 
and now comes every day to search the empty vessel for 
its old inhabitants, and, after a short prayer, to pronounce 
a curse upon their enemies. 

A young man whom I questioned about the remarkable 
sights in the town showed me a house which is called the 
* b Devil's house," because the devil, who is generally too 
ready to destroy, is said to have built it in a single night, 
with stones rapidly brought to the spot. However, what is 
really remarkable about the house, the good man had not 
observed ; namely, that it is the only house of good taste 
that I have yet seen in Trent, and was certainly built by 
some good Italian, at an earlier period. At live o'clock in 
the evening I again set off. The spectacle of yesterday 
evening was repeated, and at sunset the grasshoppers again 
began to sing. For about a league the journey lies between 
walls above which the grape-espaliers are visible. Other 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 89 

walls, which arc not high enough, have been eked out with 
stones, thorns, etc., to prevent passengers from plucking off 
the grapes. Many owners sprinkle the foremost rows with 
lime, which renders the grapes uneatable, but does not hurt 
the wine, as the process of fermentation drives out the hete- 
rogeneous matter. 

Evening of Sept. 11. 
I am now at Roveredo, where a marked distinction of 
language begins : hitherto it has fluctuated between Ger- 
man and Italian. I have now, for the first time, had a thor- 
oughly Italian postilion. The inn-keeper does not speak a 
word of German, and I must put my own linguistic powers to 
the test. How delighted I am that the language I have 
always loved most now becomes living, — the language of 
common usage ! 

Torbole, 12th September. 
After dinner. 

How much do I wish that my friends were with me for a 
moment to enjoy the prospect which now lies before my eyes ! 

I might have been in Verona this evening : but a magnifi- 
cent natural phenomenon was in my vicinity, — Lake Garcia, 
a splendid spectacle, which I did not want to miss ; and now 
I am nobly rewarded for taking this circuitous route. 
After five o'clock I started from Roveredo, up a side valley, 
which still pours its waters into the Etsch. After ascending 
this, you come to an immense rocky bar, which you must 
cross in descending to the lake. Here appeared the finest 
calcareous rocks for pictorial study. On descending, you 
come to a little village on the northern end of the lake, with 
a little port, or rather landing-place, which is called Torbole. 
On my way up, I was constantly accompanied by fig-trees ; 
and, descending into the rocky atmosphere, I found the first 
olive-tree full of fruit. Here, also, for the first time, I found 
as a common fruit those little white figs which the Countess 
Lanthieri had promised me. 

A door opens from the chamber in which I sit, into the 
courtyard below. Before this I have placed my table, and 
taken a rough sketch of the prospect. The lake may be seen 
for its whole length, and it is only at the end towards the 
left that it vanishes from our e} T es. The shore, which is 
enclosed on both sides by hill and mountain, shines with a 
countless number of little hamlets. 



90 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

After midnight the wind blows from north to south ; and 
he who wishes to go down the lake must travel at this time, 
for a few hours before sunset the current of air changes, and 
moves northward. At this time (the afternoon) it blows 
strongly against me, and pleasantly qualities the burning 
heat of the sun. Volkmann teaches me that this lake was 
formerly called " Benacus," and quotes from Virgil a line in 
which it was mentioned : — 

" Fluctibus et fremiter resonans, Benace, marine" 

This is the first Latin verse the subject of which ever 
stood visibly before me ; and now, in the present moment, 
when the wind is blowing more and more strongly, and the 
lake casts loftier billows against the little harbor, it is just 
as true as it was hundreds of years ago. Much, indeed, has 
changed ; but the wind still roars about the lake, the aspect 
of which gains even greater gloiy from a line of Virgil's. 

The above was written in a latitude of 45° 50/ 

I went out for a walk in the cool of the evening ; and now 
I really find myself in a new country, surrounded b} T objects 
entirely strange. The people lead a careless, sauntering life. 
In the first place, the doors are without locks ; but the host 
assured me that I might be quite at ease, even though all I 
had about me consisted of diamonds. In the second place, 
the windows are covered with oiled paper instead of glass. 
In the third place, an extremely necessary convenience is 
wanting, so that one comes pretty close to a state of nature. 
When I asked the waiter for a certain place, he pointed 
down into the courtyard : ' ' Qui , abasso puo servirsi ! " — 
"Dove?" asked I. "Da per tutto, dove vuol," was the 
friendly reply. The greatest carelessness is visible every- 
where, but still there is life and bustle enough. During 
the whole day the women of the neighborhood are incessantly 
chattering and shrieking : all have something to do at the 
same time. I have not yet seen an idle woman. 

The host, with Italian emphasis, assured me that he felt 
great pleasure in being able to serve me with the finest trout. 
They are taken near Torbole, where the stream flows down 
from the mountains, and the fish seeks a passage upward. 
The emperor farms this fishery for ten thousand gulden. 
The fish, which are large (often weighing fifty pounds) , and 
spotted over the whole body to the head, are not trout, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 91 

properly so called. The flavor, which is between that of 
trout and salmon, is delicate and excellent. 

But my real delight is in the fruit, — in the figs and in the 
pears, which must, indeed, be excellent, where citrons are 
already growing. 

Evening of Sept. 13. 

At three o'clock this morning I started from Torbole with a 
couple of rowers. At first the wind was so favorable that 
we put up a sail. The morning was cloudy, but fine, and per- 
fectly calm at daybreak. We passed Limona, the mountain 
gardens of which — laid out terrace-fashion, and planted with 
citron-trees — have a neat and rich appearance. The whole 
garden consists of rows of square white pillars placed at 
some distance from each other, and rising up the mountain 
in steps. On these pillars strong beams are laid, that the 
trees planted between them may be sheltered in the winter. 
The view of these pleasant objects was favored by a slow 
passage ; and we had already passed Malsesiue when the 
wind suddenly changed, took the direction usual in the day- 
time, and blew towards the north. Rowing was of litle use 
against this superior power, and therefore we were forced 
to land in the harbor of Malsesiue. This is the first Venetian 
spot on the eastern side of the lake. When one has to do 
with water, we cannot say, " I will be at this or that particu- 
lar place to-day." I will make my stay here as useful as 
I can, especially by making a drawing of the castle, which 
lies close to the water, and is a beautiful object. As I passed 
along, I took a sketch of it. 

Sept. 14. 
'The wind, which blew against me yesterday, and drove me 
into the harbor of Malsesine, was the cause of a perilous 
adventure, which I got over with good humor, and the re- 
membrance of which I still find amusing. According to my 
plan, I went early in the morning into the old castle, which, 
having neither gate nor guard, is accessible to everybody. 
Entering the courtyard, I seated myself opposite to the old 
tower, which is built on and among the rocks. Here I had 
selected a very convenient spot for drawing, — a carved stone 
seat in the wall, near a closed door, raised some three or 
four feet high, such as we also find in the old buildings in our 
own country. 

I had not sat long, before several persons entered the 



92 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

yard, and walked backward and forward, looking at mo. The 
multitude increased, and at last so stood as completely to 
surround me. I remarked that my drawing had excited 
attention. However, I did not allow myself to be disturbed, 
but quietly continued my occupation. At last a man. not 
of the most prepossessing appearance, came up to me, and 
asked me what I was about. I replied that I was copying 
the old tower, that I might have some remembrance of Mal- 
sesine. He said that this was not allowed, and that I must 
leave off. As he said this in the common Venetian dialect, 
so that I understood him with difficulty, I answered that I 
did not understand him at all. With true Italian coolness 
he took hold of nvy paper, and tore it, at the same time let- 
ting it remain on the pasteboard. Here I observed an air of 
dissatisfaction among the bystanders. An old woman, in 
particular, said that it was not right, but that the podesta 
ought to be called, who was the best judge of such matters. I 
stood upright on the steps, having my back against the door, 
and surveyed the assembly, which was continually increasing. 
The fixed, eager glances, the good-humored expression of 
most of the faces, and all the other characteristics of a foreign 
mob, made the most amusing impression upon me. I fancied 
that I could see before me the chorus of birds, which. as 
Treufreund, I had often laughed at in the Ettersburg theatre. 
This put me in excellent humor ; and, when the podesta came 
up with his actuaiy, I greeted him in an open manner, and, 
when he asked me why I was drawing the fortification, 
modestly replied that I did not look upon that wall as a forti- 
fication. I called the attention of him and the people to the 
decay of the towers and walls, and to the generally defence- 
less position of the place, assuring him that I thought I only 
saw and drew a ruin. 

I was answered thus : " If it was only a ruin, what could 
there be remarkable about it?" As I wished to gain time 
and favor, I replied, very circumstantially, that they must be 
well aware how many travellers visited Italy for the sake of 
the ruins only ; that Rome, the metropolis of the world, hav- 
ing suffered the depredations of barbarians, was now full of 
ruins, which had been drawn hundreds of times ; and that all 
the works of antiquity were not in such good preservation as 
the amphitheatre at Verona, wdiich I hoped soon to see. 

The podesta, who stood before me, though in a less elevated 
position, was a tall man, not exactly thin, of about thirty 
years of age. The Hat features of his spiritless face per- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 93 

feetly accorded with the slow, constrained manner in which 
he pat his questions. Even the actuary, a sharp little fellow, 
seemed as if he did not know what to make of a case so new 
and so unexpected. I said a great deal of the same sort. 
The people seemed to take my remarks good-naturedly ; and, 
on turning towards some kindly female faces, I thought I 
could read assent and approval. 

AYhcn, however, I mentioned the amphitheatre at Verona, 
which in this country is called the " Arena," the actuary, 
who had in the mean while collected himself, replied that this 
was all very well, because the edifice in question was a Roman 
building, famed throughout the world. In these towers, 
however, there was nothing remarkable, excepting that they 
marked the boundary between the Venetian domain and Aus- 
trian Empire ; and therefore espionage could not be allowed. 
I answered by explaining, at some length, that not only the 
Greek and Roman antiquities, but also those of the middle 
ages, were worth attention. They could not be blamed, 
I granted, if, having been accustomed to this building from 
their 3011th upwards, they could not discern in it so many 
picturesque beauties as I did. Fortunately the morning sun 
shed the most beautiful lustre on the tower, rocks, and 
walls ; and I began to describe the scene with enthusiasm. 
My audience, however, had these much lauded objects behind 
them ; and, as they did not wisli to turn altogether away from 
me, they all at once twisted their hands, like the birds, which 
we call "wry-necks" ( Wendehiilse) , that they might see 
with their eyes what I had been lauding to their ears. Even 
the ppdesta turned round, though with more dignity than the 
rest, towards the picture I had been describing. This scene 
appeared to me so ridiculous that my good humor increased, 
and I spared them nothing, least of all, the ivy, which had 
been suffered for ages to adorn the rock and walls. 

The actuary retorted, that this was all very well : but the 
Emperor Joseph was a troublesome gentleman, who certainly 
entertained man)' evil designs against Venice ; and I might, 
probably, have been one of his subjects, appointed by him, 
to act as a spy on the borders. 

" Far from belonging to the emperor," I replied, " I can 
boast, as well as you. that I am a citizen of a republic which 
also governs itself, but which is not, indeed, to be compared 
for power and greatness to the illustrious state of Venice, 
although in commercial activity, in wealth, and in the wisdom 
of its rulers, it is inferior to no state in Germany. I am a 



94 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

native of Frankfort-on-the-Main, a city the name and fame 
of which has doubtless reached yon." 

4k Of Frankf ort-on-the-Main ! ' ' cried a pretty young wo- 
man. " Then, Mr. Podesta, }'ou can at once see all about 
the foreigner, whom I look upon as an honest man. Let 
Gregorio be called : he has resided there a long time, and 
will be the best judge of the matter." 

The kindly faces had already increased around me ; the 
first adversary had vanished ; and, when Gregorio came to the 
spot, the whole affair took a decided turn in my favor. He 
was a man upwards of fifty, with one of those well-known 
Italian, faces. He spoke and conducted himself like one 
who feels that something foreign is not foreign to him, and 
told me at once that he had seen service in Bolongari's 
house, and would be delighted to hear from me something 
about this family and the city in general, which had left a 
pleasant impression in his memory. Fortunately, his resi- 
dence at Frankfort had been during my younger years ; and 
I had the double advantage of being able to say exactly how 
matters stood in his time, and what alteration had taken 
place afterwards. I told him about all the Italian families, 
none of whom had remained unknown to me. With many 
particulars he was highly delighted, as, for instance, with 
the fact that Herr Alessina had celebrated his u golden wed- 
ding " 1 in the year 1774, and that a medal had been struck 
on the occasion, which was in my possession. He remem- 
bered that the wife of this wealthy merchant was by birth a 
Brentano. I could also tell him something about the chil- 
dren and grandchildren of these families, — how they had 
grown up, and had been provided for and married, and 
had multiplied in their descendants. 

When I had given the most accurate information about 
almost every thing about which he had asked, his features 
alternately expressed cheerfulness and solemnity. He was 
pleased and touched ; while the people cheered up more and 
more, and could not hear too much of our conversation, of 
which, it must be confessed, he was obliged to translate a 
part into their own dialect. 

At last he said, " Podesta, I am convinced that this is a 
good, accomplished, and well-educated gentleman, who is 
travelling about to acquire instruction. We will let him 
depart in a friendly manner, that he may speak well of us to 
his fellow-countrymen, and induce them to visit Malsesine, 

1 The fiftieth anniversary of a wedding-day is so called in Germany. — Trans. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 95 

the beautiful situation of which is well worthy the admira- 
tion of foreigners." I gave additional force to these kind 
words by praising the country, the situation, and the inhabit- 
ants, not forgetting to mention the magistrates as wise and 
prudent personages. 

This was well received ; and 1 had permission to visit the 
place at pleasure, in company with Master Gregorio. The 
landlord with whom I had put up now joined us, and was 
delighted at the prospect of the foreign guests who would 
crowd upon him when once the advantages of Malsesine 
were properly known. With the most lively curiosity he 
examined my various articles of dress, but especially envied 
me the possession of a little pistol, which slipped conven- 
iently into the pocket. He congratulated those who could 
carry such pretty weapons ; this being forbidden in his 
country, under the severest penalties. This friendly but 
obtrusive personage I sometimes interrupted to thank my 
deliverer. tl Do not thank me," said honest Gregorio ; " for 
you owe me nothing. If the podesta had understood his 
business, and the actuary had not been the most selfish man 
in the world, you would not have got off so easily. The 
former was still more puzzled than you ; and the latter 
would have pocketed nothing by your arrest, the informa- 
tion, and your removal to Verona. This he rapidly consid- 
ered, and you were already free before our dialogue was 
ended." 

Towards the evening the good man took me into his vine- 
yard, which was very well situated, down along the lake. 
We were accompanied by his son, a lad of fifteen, who was 
forced to climb the trees, and pluck me the best fruit, while 
the old man looked out for the ripest grapes. 

While thus placed between these two kind-hearted people, 
both strange to the world, alone, as it were, in the deep soli- 
tude of the earth, I felt in the most lively manner, as I 
reflected on the day's adventure, what a whimsical being 
man is ; how the very thing which in company he might 
enjoy with ease; and security, is often rendered troublesome 
and dangerous, from his notion that he can appropriate to 
himself the world and its contents after his own peculiar 
fashion. 

Towards midnight my host accompanied me to the bark, 
carrying the basket of fruit with which Gregorio had pre- 
sented me, and thus, with a favorable wind, I left the shore, 
which had promised to become for me a Laistrygonicum shore. 



96 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

And now for my expedition on the lake. It ended hap- 
pily, after the noble aspect of the water, and of the adjacent 
shore of Brescia, had refreshed my very heart. On the west- 
ern side, where the mountains cease to be perpendicular, and 
near the lake, the land becomes more flat. Garignano, 
Bojaco, Cecina, Toscolan, Maderno, Verdom, aud Salo, 
stand all in a row, and occupy a reach of about a league and 
a half ; most of them being built in long streets. No words 
can express the beauty of this richly inhabited spot. At ten 
o'clock in the morning, I landed at Bartolino, placed 1113- lug- 
gage on one mule, and myself on another. The road went 
now over a ridge which separates the valley of the Etsch 
from the hollow of the lake. The primeval waters seem to 
have driven against each other from both sides, in immense 
currents, and to have raised this colossal dam of gravel. A 
fertile soil was deposited upon the gravel at a quieter period, 
but the laborer is constantly annoyed by the appearance of 
the stones on the surface. Every effort is made to get 
rid of them. They are piled in rows and layers one on 
another, and thus a sort of thick wall is formed along the 
path. The mulberry-trees, from a want of moisture, have a 
dismal appearance at this elevation. Springs there are none. 
From time to time puddles of collected rain-water may be 
found, with which the mules, and even their drivers, quench 
their thirst. Some wheels are placed on the river beneath, 
to water at pleasure those plantations that have a lower 
situation. 

The magnificence of the new country, which opens on you 
as you descend, surpasses description. It is a garden a mile 
long and broad, which lies quite flat at the foot of tall moun- 
tains and steep rocks, and is as neatly laid out as possible. 
By this way, about one o'clock on the 10th of September, I 
reached Verona, where I first write this, finish, and put 
together the first part of my diary, and indulge in the 
pleasing hope of seeing the amphitheatre in the evening. 

Concerning the weather of these days I have to make the 
following statement. The night from the 9th to the 10th 
was alternately clear and cloud} 7 : the moon had always a 
halo round it. Towards five o'clock in the morning, all the 
sky was overcast with gray, not heavy clouds, which 
vanished with the advance of day. The more I descended, 
the finer was the weather. As at Botzen the great mass of 
the mountains took a northerly situation, the air displayed 
quite another quality. F'rom the different grounds in the 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 97 

landscape, which were separated from each other in the most 
picturesque manner, by a tint more or less blue, it might be 
seen that the atmosphere was full of vapors equally distrib- 
uted, which it was able to sustain, and which, therefore, 
neither fell in the shape of dew, nor were collected in the 
form of clouds. As I descended farther, I could plainly 
observe that all the exhalations from the Botzen Valley, and 
all the streaks of cloud which ascended from the more 
southern mountains, moved towards the higher northern 
regions, which they did not cover, but veiled with a kind of 
yellow fog. In the remotest distance, over the mountains, I 
could observe what is called a " water-gull." To the south 
of Botzen they have had the finest weather all the summer, 
only a little water (they say aqua to denote a light rain) 
from time to time, and then a return of sunshine. Yester- 
day a few drops occasionally fell, and the sun throughout 
continued shining. They have not had so good a year for a 
loug while ; every thing turns out well : the bad weather they 
have sent to us. 

I mention but slightly the mountains and the species of 
stone; since Ferber's "Travels to Italy," and Hacquet's 
"Journey along the Alps," give sufficient information re- 
specting this district. A quarter of a league from the Bren- 
ner, there is a marble quarry, which I passed at twilight. It 
may, nay must, lie upon mica-slate, as on the other side. 
This I found near Colman, just as it dawned: lower down 
there was an appearance of porphyry. The rocks were so 
magnificent, and the heaps were so conveniently broken up 
along the highway, that a " Voigt " cabinet might have been 
made and packed up at once. Without any trouble of that 
kind, I can take a piece, if it is only to accustom my eyes 
and my curiosity to a small quantity. A little below Col- 
man, I found some porphyry, which splits into regular plates, 
and, between Brandrol and Neumark, some of a similar 
kind, in which, however, the laminae separated in pillars. 
Ferber considered them to be volcanic productions ; but that 
was fourteen years ago, when all the world had its head on 
fire. Even Hacquet ridicules the notion. 

Of the people I can say but little, and that is not very 
favorable. On my descent from the Brenner, I discovered, 
as soon as day came, a decided change of form, and was 
particularly displeased by the pale, brownish complexion of 
the women : their features indicated wretchedness. The chil- 
dren looked equally miserable, the men somewhat better. 



98 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

I imagine that the cause of this sickly condition may be 
found in the frequent consumption of Indian corn and buck- 
wheat. Both the former (which they also call " Yellow 
Blende ") and the latter (which is called ** Black Blende ") 
are ground, made into a thick pap with water, and thus eaten. 
The Germans on this side pull out the dough, and fry it in 
butter. The Italian Tyrolese, on the contrary, eat it just as 
it is, often with scrapings of cheese, and do not taste meat 
throughout the year. This necessarily glues up and stops 
the alimentary channels, especially with the women and chil- 
dren ; and their cachectic complexion is an indication of the 
malady. They also eat fruit and green beans, which they 
boil down in water, and mix with oil and garlic. I asked 
if there were no rich peasants. " Yes, indeed!" was the 
reply. "Don't they indulge themselves at all ? don't they eat 
any thing better? " — "No, they are used to it." — "What 
do they do with their money, then? how r do they lay it out? " 
— " Oh ! they have their ladies, who relieve them of that." 
This is the sum and substance of a conversation with mine 
host's daughter at Botzen. 

I also learned from her that the vine-tillers were the worst 
off, although they appeared to be the most opulent ; for they 
were in the hands of commercial towns-people, who advanced 
them enough to support life in the bad seasons, and in win- 
ter took their wine at a low price. However, it is the same 
thing everywhere. 

My opinion concerning the food is confirmed by the fact 
that the women who inhabit the towms appear better and 
better. They have pretty, plump, girlish faces. The body 
is somewdiat too short, in proportion to the stoutness and the 
size of the head ; but sometimes the countenances have a 
most agreeable expression. The men we already know 
through the wandering TjTolese. In the country their ap- 
pearance is less fresh than that of the women, perhaps 
because the latter have more bodily labor, and are more in 
motion; while the former sit at home as traders and work- 
men. By the Garda Lake I found the people very brown, 
without the slightest tinge of red in their cheeks : however, 
they did not look unhealthy, but quite fresh and comfortable. 
Probably the burning sunbeams to which they are exposed 
at the foot of their mountains are the cause of their com- 
plexion. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 99 



FROM VERONA TO VENICE. 

Verona, Sept. 16. 

Well, then, the Amphitheatre is the first important monu- 
ment of the old times that I have seen ; and how well it is 
preserved ! When I entered, and still more when I walked 
round the edge of it at the top, it seemed strange to me 
that I saw something great, and yet, properly speaking, saw 
nothing. Besides, I do not like to see it empty. I should 
like to see it full of people, just as, in modern times, it was 
filled up in honor of Joseph I. and Pius VI. The emperor, 
although his eye was accustomed to human masses, must 
have been astonished. But it was only in the earliest times 
that it produced its full effect, when the people was more 
a people than it is now. For, properly speaking, such an 
amphitheatre is constructed to give the people an imposing 
view of itself, — to cajole itself. 

When any thing worth seeing occurs on the level ground, 
and any one runs to the spot, the hindermost try by every 
means to raise themselves above the foremost : they get 
upon benches, roll casks, bring up vehicles, lay planks in 
every direction, occupy the neighboring heights, and a crater 
is formed in no time. 

If the spectacle occur frequently on the same spot, light 
scaffoldings are built for those who are able to pay, and the 
rest of the multitude must get on as it can. Here the prob- 
lem of the architect is to satisfy this general want. By 
means of his art he prepares such a crater, making it as 
simple as possible, that the people itself may constitute the 
decoration. When the populace saw itself so assembled, it 
must have been astonished at the sight ; for whereas it was 
only accustomed to see itself running about in confusion, or 
to find itself crowded together without particular rule or 
order, so must this many-headed, many-minded, wandering 
animal now see itself combined into a noble body, made into 
a definite unity, bound and secured into a mass, and ani- 
mated as one form by one mind. The simplicity of the 
oval is most pleasingly obvious to every e} T e, and every head 
serves as a measure to show the vastness of the whole. 
Now we see it empty, we have no standard, and do not 
know whether it is large or small. 

The Veronese deserve commendation for the high preser- 
vation in which this edifice is kept. It is built of a reddish 



100 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

marble, which has been affected by the atmosphere ; and 
hence the steps, which have been eaten, are continually 
restored, and look almost all new. An inscription makes 
mention of one Hieronymus Maurigenus, and of the incredi- 
ble industry which he has expended on this monument. Of 
the outer wall only a piece remains, and I doubt whether it 
was ever quite finished. The lower arches, which adjoin 
the large square called " II Bra," are let out to workmen; 
and the re-animation of these arcades produces a cheerful 
appearance. 

Verona, Sept. 1G. 

The most beautiful gate, which, however, always remains 
closed, is called "Porta stupa," or "del Paliio." As a 
gate, and considering the great distance from which it is 
first seen, it is not well conceived ; and it is not till we come 
near it, that we recognize the beauty of the structure. 

All sorts of reasons are given to account for its being 
closed. I have, however, a conjecture of my own. It was 
manifestly the intention of the artist to cause a new Corso 
to be laid out from this gate ; for the situation, or the pres- 
ent street, is completely wrong. On the left side there is 
nothing but barracks ; and the line at right angles from the 
middle of the gate leads to a convent of nuns, which must 
certainly have come down. This was presently perceived ; 
and, besides, the rich and higher classes might not have 
liked to settle in the remote quarter. The artist, perhaps, 
died ; and therefore the door was closed, and so an end was 
put to the affair. 

Verona, Sept. 16. 

The portico of the theatre, consisting of six large Ionic 
columns, looks handsome enough. 80 much the more puny 
is the appearance of the Marchese di Maffei's bust, which 
as large as life, and in a great wig, stands over the door, 
and in front of a painted niche which is supported by two 
Corinthian columns. The position is honorable ; but, to be in 
some degree proportionate to the magnitude and solidity of 
the columns, the bust should have been colossal. But now, 
placed as it is on a corbel, it has a mean appearance, and is 
by no means in harmony with the whole. 

The gallery which encloses the fore-court is also small, 
and the channelled Doric dwarfs have a mean appearance by 
the side of the smooth Ionic giants. But we pardon this 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 101 

discrepancy on account of the fine institution which has 
been founded among the columns. Here is kept a number of 
antiquities, which have mostly been dug up in and about 
Verona. Something, they say, has even been found in the 
Amphitheatre. There are Etruscan, Greek, and Roman 
specimens, down to the latest times, and some even of more 
modern date. The bas-reliefs are inserted in the walls, and 
provided with the numbers which Maffei gave them when 
he described them in his work, "Verona Illustrata." 
There are altars, fragments of columns, and other relics of 
the sort ; an admirable tripod of white marble, upon which 
there are genii occupied with the attributes of the gods. 
Raphael has imitated and improved this kind of thing in the 
scrolls of the Farnesina. 

The wind which blows from the graves of the ancients 
comes fragrantly over hills of roses. The tombs give touch- 
ing evidences of a genuine feeling, and always bring life 
back to us. Here is a man by the side of his wife, who 
peeps out of a niche, as if it were a window. Here are 
father and mother, with their son between them, eying each 
other as naturally as possible. Here a couple are grasping- 
each other's hands. Here a father, resting on his couch, 
seems to be amused by his family. The immediate prox- 
imity of these stones was to me highly touching. They 
belong to a later school of art, but are simple, natural, and 
generally pleasing. Here a man in armor is on his knees, in 
expectation of a joyful resurrection. With more or less of 
talent, the artist has produced the mere simple presence of 
the persons, and has thus given a permanent continuation to 
their existence. They do not fold their hands, they do not 
look towards heaven ; but they are here below just what they 
were and just what they are. They stand together, take 
interest in each other, love one another ; and this is charm- 
ingly expressed on the stone, though with a certain want of 
technical skill. A marble pillar very richly adorned gave 
me more new ideas. 

Laudable as this institution is, we can plainly perceive 
that the noble spirit of preservation, by which it was 
founded, is no longer continued. The valuable tripod will 
soon be ruined, placed as it is in the open air, and ex- 
posed to the weather towards the west. This treasure might 
easily be preserved in a wooden case. 

The Palace of the Proveditore, which is begun, might 
have afforded a fine specimen of architecture, if it had been 



102 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

finished. Generally speaking, the nobili build a great deal ; 
but, unfortunately, every one builds on the site of his former 
residence, and often, therefore, in narrow lanes. Thus, for 
instance, a magnificent facade to a seminary is now building 
in an ally of the remotest suburb. 

While, with a guide whom I had accidentally picked up, 
I passed before the great solemn gate of a singular building, 
he asked me good humoredly whether I should not like to 
step into the court for a while. It was the Palace of Justice ; 
and the court, on account of the height of the building, 
looked only like an enormous wall. Here, he told me, all 
the criminals and suspicious persons are confined. I looked 
around, and saw that round all the stories there were open 
passages, fitted with iron balustrades, which passed by 
numerous doors. The prisoner, as he stepped out of his 
dungeon to be led to trial, stood in the open air, and w r as 
exposed to the gaze of all passers ; and, because there were 
several trial-rooms, the chains were rattling, now over this, 
now over that passage, in every story. It was a hateful 
sight, and I do not deny that the good humor with which I 
had despatched my "Birds" might here have come into a 
strait. 

I walked at sunset upon the margin of the crater-like Am- 
phitheatre, and enjoyed the most splendid prospect over the 
town and the surrounding country. I w r as quite alone, and 
multitudes of people were passing below me on the hard 
stones of the Bra. Men of all ranks, and women of the mid- 
dle ranks, were walking. The latter, in their black outer gar- 
ments, look, in this bird's-eye view, like so many mummies. 

The Zendale and the Veste, which serve this class* in 
the place of an entire wardrobe, is a costume completely 
fitted for a people that does not care much for cleanliness, 
and yet always likes to appear in public, — sometimes at 
church, sometimes on the promenade. The Veste is a gown 
of black taffeta, which is thrown over other gowns. If the 
lady has a clean white one beneath, she contrives to lift up 
the black one on one side. This is fastened on so as to 
cut the waist, and to cover the lappets of a corset, which 
may be of any color. The Zenihde is a large hood with 
long ears. The hood itself is kept high above the head by 
a wire frame, wiiile the ears are fastened round the body 
like a scarf, so that the ends fall down behind. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 103 

Verona, Sept. 16. 

When I again left the Arena to-day, I came to a modern 
public spectacle, about a thousand paces from th.e spot. 
Four noble Veronese were playing ball against four people 
of Vicenza. This pastime is carried on among the Veronese 
themselves all the year round, about two hours before night. 
On this occasion there was a far larger concourse of people 
than usual, on account of the foreign adversaries. The 
spectators seem to have amounted to four or five thousand. 
I did not see women of any rank. 

When, a little while ago, I spoke of the necessities of the 
multitude in such a case, I described the natural accidental 
amphitheatre as arising just in the manner in which I saw 
the people raised one over another on this occasion. Even 
at a distance, I could hear the lively clapping of hands 
which accompanied every important stroke. The game is 
played as follows : two boards, slightly inclined, are placed 
at a convenient distance from each other. He who strikes 
off the ball stands at the higher end : his right hand is armed 
with a broad wooden ring, set with spikes. While another 
of his party throws the ball to him, he runs down to meet it, 
and thus increases the force of the blow with which he 
strikes it. The adversaries try to beat it back ; and thus it 
goes backward and forward, till at last it remains on the 
ground. The most beautiful attitudes, worthy of being imi- 
tated in marble, are thus produced. As there are none but 
well-grown, active young people, in a short, close white 
dress, the parties are only distinguished by a yellow mark. 
Particularly beautiful is the attitude into which the man on 
the eminence falls, when he runs down the inclined plane, 
and raises his arm to strike the ball : it approaches that of 
the Borghesian gladiator. 

It seemed strange to me that they carry on this exercise by 
an old lime-wall, without the slightest convenience for spec- 
tators. Why is it not done in the Amphitheatre, where there 
would be such ample room ? 

Verona, Sept. 17. 
What I have seen of pictures I will but briefly touch upon, 
and add some remarks. I do not make this extraordinary 
tour for the sake of deceiving myself, but to become ac- 
quainted with myself by means of these objects. I therefore 
honestly confess, that of the painter's art, of his manipula- 
tion, I understand but little. My attention and observation 



104 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

can only be directed to the practical part, to the subject, and 
the general treatment of it. 

St. Georgio is a gallery of good pictures, — all altar-pieces, 
and all remarkable, if not of equal value. But what subjects 
were the hapless artists obliged to paint! And for whom? 
Perhaps a shower of manna thirty feet long and twenty feet 
high, with the miracle of the loaves as a companion. What 
could be made of these subjects ? Hungry men falling on little 
grains, and a countless multitude of others, to whom bread 
is handed. The artists have racked their invention in order 
to get something striking out of such wretched subjects. And 
yet, stimulated by the urgency of the case, genius has pro- 
duced some beautiful things. An artist who had to paint 
St. Ursula with the eleven thousand virgins has got over the 
difficulty cleverly enough. The saint stands in the foreground, 
as if she had conquered the country. She is very noble, like 
an Amazonian virgin, and without any enticing charms : on 
the other hand, her troop is shown descending from the 
ships, and moving in procession at a diminishing distance. 
The Assumption of the Virgin, by Titian, in the dome, has 
become much blackened ; and it is a thought worthy of praise, 
that, at the moment of her apotheosis, she looks, not towards 
heaven, but towards her friends below. 

In the Gherardini Gallery I found some very fine things b} T 
Orbitto, and for the first time became acquainted with this 
meritorious artist. At a distance we only hear of the first 
artists, and then we are often contented w T ith names only ; 
but when we draw nearer to this starry sky, and the lumina- 
ries of the second and third magnitude also begin to twinkle, 
each one coming forward, and occupying his proper place in 
the whole constellation, then the world becomes wide, and art 
becomes rich. I must here commend the conception of one 
of the pictures. Samson has gone to sleep in the lap of 
Delilah, and she has softly stretched her hand over him to 
reach a pair of scissors, which lies near the lamp on the table. 
The execution is admirable. In the Canopa Palace I observed 
a Danae. 

The Bevilagua Palace contains the most valuable things. 
A picture by Tintoretto, w r hich is called a " Paradise," but 
which, in fact, represents the coronation of the Virgin Maiy 
as queen of heaven, in the presence of all the patriarchs, 
prophets, apostles, saints, angels, etc., affords an opportunity 
for displa} T ing all the riches of the most felicitous genius. To 
admire and enjoy all that care of manipulation, that spirit 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 105 

and variety of expression, it is necessary to possess the pic- 
ture, and to have it before one all one's life. The painter's 
work is carried on ad infinitum. Even the farthest angels' 
heads, which are vanishing in the halo, preserve something 
of character. The largest figures may be about a foot high ; 
Mary, and the Christ who is crowning her, about four inches. 
Eve is, however, the finest woman in the picture, — a little 
voluptuous, as from time immemorial. 

A couple of portraits by Paul Veronese have only increased 
my veneration for that artist. The collection of antiquities 
is very fine. There is a son of Niobe extended in death, which 
is highly valuable ; and the busts, including an Augustus with 
the civic crown, a Caligula, and others, are mostly of great 
interest, notwithstanding the restoration of the noses. 

It is in my nature to admire, willingly and joyfully, all 
that is great and beautiful ; and the cultivation of this talent 
da} T after day, hour after hour, by the inspection of such beau- 
tiful objects, produces the happiest feelings. 

In a land where we enjo}' the days, but take especial de- 
light in the evenings, the time of nightfall is highly important : 
for now work ceases ; those who have gone out walking turn 
back ; the father wishes to have his daughter home again ; 
the day has an end. What the day is, we Cimmerians hardly 
know. In our eternal mist and fog, it is the same thing to 
us whether it be day or night ; for how much time can we 
really pass and enjoy in the open air? Now, when night sets 
in, the day, which consisted of a morning and an evening, is 
decidedly past ; four and twenty hours are gone ; the bells 
ring, the rosary is taken in hand, and the maid, entering the 
chamber with the lighted lamp, says, " Felicissima natte." 
This epoch varies with every season ; and a man who lives 
here in actual life cannot go wrong, because all the enjoy- 
ments of his existence are regulated, not by the nominal 
hour, but by the time of da}'. If the people were forced to 
use a German clock, they would be perplexed, for their own 
is intimately connected with their nature. About an hour 
and a half, or an hour, before nightfall, the nobility begin to 
ride out. They proceed to the Piazza della Bra, along the 
long, broad street, to the Porta Nuova, out at the gate, and 
along the city, and, when night sets in, they all return home. 
Sometimes they go to the churches to say their Ave Maria 
della sera ; sometimes they keep on the Bra, where the cava- 
liers step up to the coaches, and converse for a while with the 
ladies. The foot-passengers remain till a late hour of night ; 



106 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

but I have never stopped till the last. To-day just enough 
rain had fallen to la}- the dust, and the spectacle was most 
cheerful and animated. 

That I may accommodate nvyself the better to the custom 
of the country, I have devised a plan for mastering more easily 
the Italian method of reckoning the hours. The accompairy- 
ing diagram may give an idea of it. The inner circle denotes 
our four and twenty hours, from midnight to midnight, divided 
into twice twelve, as we reckon and as our clocks indicate. 
The middle circle shows how the clocks strike at the present 
season ; namely, as much as twelve twice in the twenty-four 
hours, but in such a way that it strikes one when it strikes 
eight with us, and so on till the number twelve is complete. 
At eight o'clock in the morning, according to our clock, it 
again strikes one, and so on. Finally, the outer circle shows 
how the four and twenty hours are reckoned in actual life. 
For example, I hear seven o'clock striking in the night, and 
know that midnight is at five o'clock : I therefore deduct the 
latter number from the former, and thus have two hours after 
midnight. If I hear seven o'clock strike in the daytime, and 
know that noon is at five, I proceed in the same wa}*, and 
thus have two in the afternoon. But, if I wish to express the 
hour according to the fashion of this country, I must know 
that noon is seventeen o'clock : I add the two, and get nine- 
teen o'clock. When this method is heard and thought of for 
the first time, it seems extremely confused, and difficult to 
manage ; but we soon grow accustomed to it, and find the 
occupation amusing. The people themselves take delight in 
this perpetual calculation, just as children are pleased with 
easily surmounted difficulties. Indeed, the} T always have their 
fingers in the air, make any calculation in their heads, and 
like to occupy themselves with figures. Besides, to the 
inhabitant of the country, the matter is so much the easier, 
as he really does not trouble himself about noon and mid- 
night, and does not, like the foreign resident, compare two 
clocks with each other. The}' only count from the evening 
the hours as they strike, and in the daytime they add the 
number to the varying number of noon, with which they are 
acquainted. The rest is explained by the remarks appended 
to the diagram : — 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 



107 



COMPARATIVE TABLE OF GERMAN AND ITALIAN TIME, 

WITH THE HOURS OF THE ITALIAN SUN-DIAL FOR THE LATTER 
HALF OF SEPTEMBER. 

MID-DAY. 




MIDNIGHT. 



THE NIGHT 


LENGTHENS 


HALF 


AN HOUR 


THE DAY LENGTHENS 


HALF 


AN HOUR 


EVERY FORTNIGHT. 


EVERY FORTNIGHT. 






Time of 


Mid- 






Time of 


Mid- 






night as 


night 






night as 


night 


Month. 


Day. 


shown 
by Ger- 


conse- 
quently 


Month. 


Day. 


shown 
by Ger- 


conse- 
quently 






man 


falls 






man 


falls 






clocks. 


about 






clocks. 


about 


August . . 


1 


81 


3£ 


February . . 


1 


H 


n 


(( 




15 


8 


4 


" 




15 


6 


6 


September 




1 


Ik 


4i 


March 






1 


6* 


5£ 


(i 




15 


7 


5 


<< 






15 


7 


5 


October . 




1 


6L 


5£ 


April . 






1 


7^ 


4* 


<i 




15 


6 


6 


a 






15 


8 


4 


November 




1 


°5 


6* 


May . 






1 


*k 


3 


<( 




15 

1 


5 


7 


(i 






15 


9 


3 


From this da 


te the time remains con- 


From this date the tii 


ne remains con- 


Btant, and it is 


— 


stant, and it is : — 






Night. 


Midnight. 




Night. 


Midnight. 


December . 


• •! 


5 


7 




9 


3 


January . . 


. .! 


July \ 



108 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Verona, Sept. 17. 

The people here jostle one another actively enough. The 
narrow streets, where shops and workmen's stalls arc thickly 
crowded together, have a particularly cheerful look. There 
is no such thing as a door in front of the shop or workroom : 
the whole breadth of the house is open, and one may see all 
that passes in the interior. Halfway out into the path the 
tailors are sewing, and the cobblers are pulling and rapping : 
indeed, the work-stalls make a part of the street. In the 
evening, when the lights are burning, the appearance is most 
lively. 

The squares are very full on market-days. There are fruit 
and vegetables without number, and garlic and onions to the 
heart's desire. Then, again, throughout the day there is a 
ceaseless screaming, bantering, singing, squalling, huzzaing, 
and laughing. The mildness of the air and the cheapness 
of the food make subsistence easy. Every thing possible is 
done in the open air. 

At night, singing and all sorts of noises begin. The ballad 
of "Marlbrook" is heard in every street; then comes a 
dulcimer, then a violin. They try to imitate all the birds 
with a pipe. The strangest sounds are heard on every side. 
A mild climate can give this exquisite enjoyment of mere 
existence, even to poverty ; and the very shadow of the people 
seems venerable. 

The want of cleanliness and convenience which so much 
strikes us in the houses, arises from the following cause : 
the inhabitants are always out of doors, and in their light- 
hearteduess think of nothing. With the people all goes 
right. Even the middle-class man just lives on from day to 
day ; while the rich and genteel shut themselves up in their 
dwellings, which are not so habitable as in the north. So- 
ciety is found in the open streets. Eore-courts and colon- 
nades are all soiled with filth, for things are done in the most 
natural manner. The people always feel their way before 
them. The rich man may be rich, and build his palaces, 
and the nobile may rule ; but, if he makes a colonnade or a 
fore-court, the people will make use of it for their own 
occasions, and have no more urgent wish than to get rid as 
soon as possible of that which they have taken as often as 
possible. If a person cannot bear this, he must not play 
the great gentleman ; that is to say. lie must act as if a part 
of his dwelling belonged to the public. He may shut his 
door, and all will be right. Eut in open buildings the people 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 109 

are not to be debarred of their privileges ; and this, through- 
out Italy, is a nuisance to the foreigner. 

To-day I remarked in several streets of the town the 
customs and manners of the middle classes especially, who 
appear very numerous and Imsy. They swing their arms as 
they walk. Persons of a high rank, who on certain occasions 
wear a sword, swing only one arm, being accustomed to 
hold the left arm still. 

Although the people are careless enough with respect to 
their own wants and occupations, the} r have a keen eye for 
every thing foreign. Thus in the very first days I observed 
that every one took notice of my boots : because here they 
are too expensive an article of dress to wear, even in winter. 
Now that I wear shoes and stockings, nobody looks at me. 
Particularly I noticed this morning, when all were running 
about with flowers, vegetables, garlic, and other market-stuff, 
that a twig of cypress which I carried in my hand did not 
escape their attention. Some green cones hung upon it, and 
I held in the same hand some blooming caper-twigs. Every- 
body, large and small, watched me closely, and seemed to 
entertain some whimsical thought. 

I brought these twigs from the Giusti Garden, which is 
finely situated, and in which there are monstrous cypresses, 
all pointed up like spikes into the air. The taxus, which in 
northern gardening we find cut to a sharp pokit, is probably 
an imitation of this splendid natural product. A tree the 
branches of which, the oldest as well as the youngest, are 
striving to reach heaven ; a tree which will last its three hun- 
dred years, — is well worthy of veneration. Judging from 
the time when this garden was laid out, these trees have 
already attained that advanced age. 

Vicenza, Sept. 19. 
The way from Verona hither is very pleasant. We go 
north-eastward along the mountains, always keeping to the 
left the foremost mountains, which consist of sand, lime, 
clay, and marl : the hills which they form are dotted with 
villages, castles, and houses. To the right extends the 
broad plain along which the road goes. The straight broad 
path, which is in good preservation, g'>es through a fertile 
field. We look into deep avenues of trees, up which the vines 
are trained to a considerable height, and then drop down, 
like pendent branches. Here we can get an admirable idea 
of festoons. The grapes are ripe, and are heavy on the 



110 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

tendrils, which hang down long and trembling. The road is 
filled with people of every class and occupation ; and I was 
particularly pleased by some carts with low, solid wheels, 
which, with teams of fine oxen, carry the large vats in which 
the grapes from the vineyards are put and pressed. The 
drivers rode in them when they were empty, and the whole 
was like a triumphal procession of Bacchanals. Between 
the ranks of vines the ground is used for all sorts of grain, 
especially Indian corn and millet (Sorgel). 

As one goes toward Vicenza, the hills again rise from 
north to south, and enclose the plain. The}^ are, it is said, 
volcanic. Vicenza lies at their foot, or, if you will, in a 
bosom which they form. 

Vicenza, Sept. 19. 

Though I have been here only a few hours, I have already 
run through the town, and seen the Olympian Theatre and 
the buildings of Palladio. A very pretty little book is pub- 
lished here, for the convenience of foreigners, with copper- 
plates and some letter-press, that shows knowledge of art. 
When once one stands in the presence of these works, oue 
immediately perceives their great value ; for they are cal- 
culated to fill the eye with their actual greatness and mas- 
siveness, and to satisfy the mind by the beautiful harmony 
of their dimensions, not only in abstract sketches, but with 
all the prominences and distances of perspective. Therefore 
I say of Palladio, he was a man really and intrinsically great, 
whose greatness was outwardly manifested. The chief dif- 
ficulty with which this man, like all modern architects, had to 
struggle, was the suitable application of the orders of columns 
to buildings for domestic or public use ; for there is always 
a contradiction in the combination of columns and walls. 
But with what success he has worked them up together ! 
What an imposing effect the aspect of his edifices has ! at 
the sight of them one almost forgets that he is attempting 
to reconcile us to a violation of the rules of his art. There 
is, indeed, something divine about his designs, which may 
be exactly compared to the creations of the great poet, who 
out of truth and falsehood elaborates something between 
both, and charms us with its borrowed existence. 

The Olympic Theatre is a theatre of the ancients, which is 
realized on a small scale, and is indescribably beautiful. How- 
ever, compared witli our theatres, it reminds me of a genteel, 
rich, well-bred child, contrasted with a shrewd man of the 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. Ill 

world, who, though he is neither so rich, nor so genteel and 
well-bred, knows better how to employ his resources. 

If we contemplate on the spot the noble buildings which 
Palladio has erected, and see how they are disfigured by the 
mean, filthy necessities of the people, how the plans of most 
of them exceeded the means of those who undertook them, 
and how little these precious monuments of one lofty mind 
are adapted to all else around, the thought occurs, that it is 
just the same with every thing else ; for we receive but little 
thanks from men, when we would elevate their inner aspira- 
tions, give them a great idea of themselves, and make them 
feel the grandeur of a really noble existence. But when one 
cajoles them, tells them tales, and, helping them on from day 
to day, makes them worse, then one is just the man they 
like ; and hence it is that modern times take delight in so 
many absurdities. I do not say this to lower my friends : I 
only say that they are so, and that people must not be aston- 
ished to find every thing just as it is. 

How the Basilica of Palladio looks by the side of an old 
castellated kind of a building, dotted all over with windows 
of different sizes (whose removal, tower and all, the artist 
evidently contemplated), it is impossible to describe: and 
besides, I must now, by a strange effort, compress my own 
feelings ; for I, too, alas ! find here side by side both what I 
seek and what I flee from. 

Sept. 20. 

Yesterday we had the opera, which lasted till midnight ; 
and I was glad to get some rest. The " Three Sultanesses " 
and the "Rape of the Seraglio" have afforded several tat- 
ters, out of which the piece has been patched up, with very 
little skill. The music is agreeable to the ear, but is prob- 
ably by an amateur ; for not a single thought struck me as 
being new. The ballets, on the other hand, were charming. 
The principal pair of dancers executed an Allemande to per- 
fection. 

The theatre is new, pleasant, beautiful, modestly magnifi- 
cent, uniform throughout, just as it ought to be in a provincial 
town. Every box has hangings of the same color; and the 
one belonging to the Capitan Grande is only distinguished 
from the rest by the fact that the hangings are somewhat 
longer. 

The prima donna, who is a great favorite of the whole 
people, is tremendously applauded on her entrance ; and the 



112 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

"•gods" are quite obstreperous with their delight wheu she 
does any thing remarkably well, which very often happens. 
Her manners are natural : she has a pretty figure, a fine voice, 
a pleasing countenance, and, above all, a really modest 
demeanor, while there might be more grace in the arms. 
However, I am not what I was. I feel that I am spoiled — 
I am spoiled for a " god." 

Sept. 21. 

To-day 1 visited Dr. Tura. Five years ago he passion- 
ately devoted himself to the study of plants, formed an herba- 
rium of the Italian flora, and laid out a botanical garden, 
under the superintendence of the former bishop. However, 
all that has come to an end. Medical practice drove away 
natural history ; the herbarium is eaten by worms ; the bishop 
is dead ; and the botanic garden is again rationally planted 
with cabbages and garlic. 

Dr. Tura is a very refined and good man. He told me his 
history with frankness, purity of mind, and modesty, and 
altogether spoke in a very definite and affable manner. At 
the same time he did not like to open his cabinets, which, 
perhaps, were in no very presentable condition. Our conver- 
sation soon came to a stand-still. 

Sept. 21. Evening. 
I called upon the old architect Scamozzi, who has pub- 
lished an edition of " Palladio's Buildings," and is a diligent 
artist, passionately devoted to his art. He gave me some 
directions, being delighted with my sympathy. Among Pal- 
ladio's buildings, there is one for which I always had an 
especial predilection, and which is said to have been his own 
residence. When it is seen close, there is far more in it than 
appears in a picture. I should have liked to draw it, and 
to illuminate it with colors, to show the material and the age. 
It must not, however, be imagined that the architect has built 
himself a palace. The house is the most modest in the world, 
with only two windows, separated from each other by a broad 
space which would admit a third. If it were imitated in a 
picture which should exhibit the neighboring houses at the 
same time, the spectator would be pleased to observe how it 
has been let in between them. Canaletto was the man who 
should have painted it. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 113 

Sept. 22. 
To-day I visited the splendid building whieli stands on a 
pleasant elevation about half a league from the town, and is 
called the " Rotonda." It is a quadrangular building, en- 
closing a circular hall, lighted from the top. On all the four 
sides you ascend a broad flight of steps, and always come to 
a vestibule, which is formed of six Corinthian columns. Pro- 
bably the luxury of architecture was never carried to so high 
a point. The space occupied by the steps and vestibules is 
much larger than that occupied by the house itself, for every 
one of the sides is as grand and pleasing as the front of a 
temple. With respect to the inside, it may be called habit- 
able, but not comfortable. The hall is of the finest propor- 
tions, and so are the chambers ; but they would hardly suffice 
for the actual wants of any genteel family in a summer resi- 
dence. On the other hand, it presents a most beautiful ap- 
pearance as it is viewed on every side throughout the district. 
The variety which is produced by the principal mass, as, 
together with the projecting columns, it is gradually brought 
before the eyes of the spectator who walks round it, is very 
great ; and the purpose of the owner, who wished to leave a 
large trust-estate and at the same time a visible monument 
of his wealth, is completely obtained. And, while the build- 
ing appears in all its magnificence when viewed from any 
spot in the district, it also forms the point of view for a most 
agreeable prospect. You may see the Bachiglione flowing 
along, and taking vessels down from Verona to the Brenta, 
while you overlook the extensive possessions which the Mar- 
quis Capra wished to preserve undivided in his family. The 
inscriptions on the four gable-ends, which together constitute 
one whole, are worthy to be noted down : — 

Marcus Capra Gabrielis filius 

Qui aedes has 
Arctissimo primogcniturae gradui subjecit 

Una cum omnibus 
Censibus agris vallibus et collibus 

Citra viam magnam 
Memorise perpetuse mandans haac 

Dura sustinet ac abstinet. 

The conclusion, in particular, is strange enough. A man 
who has at command so much wealth and such a capacious 
will still feels that he must bear and forbear. This can be 
learned at a less expense. 



Ill LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Sept. 22. 

This evening I was at a meeting held by the academy of 
the u Olympians." It is mere play-work, but good in its 
way, and seems to keep up a little spice and life among the 
people. There is the great hall byPalladio's Theatre, hand- 
somely lighted up. The Capitan and a portion of the nobility 
are present, besides a public composed of educated persons, 
and several of the clergy ; the whole assembly amounting to 
about live hundred. 

The question proposed by the president for to-day's sitting 
was this, tk Which has been most serviceable to the line arts, — 
invention, or imitation ? " This was a happy notion ; for, if the 
alternatives which are involved in the question are kept duly 
apart, one may go on debating for centuries. The academicians 
have gallantly availed themselves of the occasion, and have 
produced all sorts of things in prose and verse, some very good. 

Then there is the liveliest public. The audience cry Bravo, 
and clap their hands, and laugh. What a thing it is to stand 
thus before one's nation, and amuse them in person ! We 
must set down our best productions in black and white. 
Every one squats down w r ith them in a corner, and scribbles 
at them as he can. 

It may be imagined, that, even on this occasion, Palladio 
would be continually appealed to, whether the discourse was 
in favor of invention or imitation. At the end, which is 
alwa} T s the right place for a joke, one of the speakers hit on 
a happy thought, and said that the others had already taken 
Palladio away from him ; so that he, for his part, would praise 
Franceschini, the great silk-manufacturer. He then began 
to show the advantages which this enterprising man, and, 
through him, the city of Vicenza, had derived from imitating 
the L} T onnese and Florentine stuffs, and thence came to the 
conclusion that imitation stands far above invention. This 
was done with so much humor, that uninterrupted laughter 
was excited. Generally those who spoke in favor of imita- 
tion obtained the most applause ; for they said nothing but 
what was adapted to the thoughts and capacities of the mul- 
titude. Once the public, by a violent clapping of hands, 
gave its hearty approval to a most clumsy sophism, when it 
had not felt many good, nay, excellent things that had 
been said in honor of invention. I am very glad I have wit- 
nessed this scene ; for it is highly gratifying to see Palladio, 
after the lapse oi so long a time, still honored by his fellow- 
citizens as their polar star and model. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 115 

Sept. 22. 

This morning I was at Tiene, which lies north, towards the 
mountains, where a new building has been erected after an 
old plan, of which there may be a little to say. Thus do 
they here honor every thing that belongs to the good period, 
and have sense enough to raise a new building on a plan 
which they have inherited. The chateau is excellently sit- 
uated in a large plain, having behind it the calcareous Alps, 
without any mountains intervening. A stream of living 
water flows along the level causeway from each side of the 
building, towards those who approach it, and waters the 
broad fields of rice through which one passes. 

I have now seen but two Italian cities, and for the first 
time, and have spoken with but few persons ; and yet I know 
my Italians pretty well. They are like courtiers, who con- 
sider themselves the first people in the world, and who, on 
the strength of certain advantages, which cannot be denied 
them, can indulge with impunity in so comfortable a thought. 
The Italians appear to me a right good people. Only one 
must see the children and the common people as I see them 
now, and can see them, while I am always open to them, 
nay, always lay myself open to them. What figures and 
faces there are ! 

It is especially to be commended in the Vicentians, that 
with them one enjoys the privileges of a large city. What- 
ever a person does, they do not stare at him ; but, if he ad- 
dresses them, they are conversable and pleasant, especially 
the women, who please me much. I do not mean to find 
fault with the Veronese women : they are well made, and 
have decided profiles ; but they are, for the most part, pale, 
and the Zendal is to their disadvantage, because one looks 
for something charming under the beautiful costume. I have 
found here some very pretty creatures, especially some with 
black locks, who inspire me with peculiar interest. There are 
also fairer beauties, who, however, do not please me so well. 

Padua, Sept. 2(5. 
Evening. 

In four hours I have this day come here from Yicenza, 
crammed, luggage and all, into a little one-seated chaise 
called a Sediola. Generally the journey is performed with 
ease in three hours and a half ; but, as I wished to pass 
the delightful daytime in the open air, I was glad that the 
Vetturmo fell short of his duty. The route goes constantly 



116 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

southwards, over the most fertile plains, and between hedges 
and trees, without further prospect, until at last the beautiful 
mountains, extending from the east towards the south, are 
seen on the right hand. The abundance of the festoons of 
plants and fruit, which hang over walls and hedges, and 
down the trees, is indescribable. The roofs are loaded with 
gourds, and the strangest sort of cucumbers are hanging 
from poles and trellises. 

From the observatory I could take the clearest survey pos- 
sible of the fine situation of the town. Towards the north 
are the Tyrolese mountains, covered with snow, and half 
hidden by clouds, and joined by the Vicentian mountains on 
the north-west. Then towards the west are the nearer moun- 
tains of Este, the shapes and recesses of which are plainly to 
be seen. Towards the south-east is a verdant sea of plants, 
without a trace of elevation, tree after tree, bush after bush, 
plantation after plantation, while houses, villas, and churches, 
dazzling with whiteness, peer out from among the green. 
Against the horizon I plainly saw the tower of St. Mark's at 
Venice, with other smaller towers. 

Padua, Sept. 17. 

I have at last obtained the works of Palladio, not indeed 
the original edition, which I saw at Vicenza, where the cuts 
are in wood, but a facsimile in copper, published at the ex- 
pense of an excellent man, named Smith, who was formerly 
the English consul at Venice. AVe must give the English 
this credit, that they have long known how to prize what is 
good, and have a magnificent way of diffusing it. 

On the occasion of this purchase I entered a book-shop, 
which in Italy presents quite a peculiar appearance. Around 
it are arranged the books, all stitched ; and during the whole 
day good society may be found in the shop, which is a lounge 
for all the secular clergy, nobility, and artists who are in any 
way connected with literature. One nsks for a book, opens 
it, and amuses himself as one can. Thus I found a knot of 
half a dozen, all of whom became attentive to me when I 
asked for the works of Palladio. AYhile the master of the 
shop looked for the book, they commended it, and gave me 
information respecting the original and the copy : they were 
well acquainted with the work itself and with the merits of 
the author. Taking me for an architect, they praised me for 
having recourse to this master in preference to all the rest ; 
saying that he was of more practical utility than Vitruvius 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 117 

himself, since he had thoroughly studied the ancients and 
antiquity, and had sought to adapt the latter to the wants of 
our own times. I conversed for a long time with these 
friendly men, learned something about the remarkable objects 
in the city, and took my leave. 

Where men have built churches to saints, a place may 
sometimes be found in them where monuments to intellectual 
men may be set up. The bust of Cardinal Bembo stands 
between Ionic columns. It is a handsome face, strongly 
drawn in, if I may use the expression, and with a copious 
beard. The inscription runs thus: "Petri Bembi Card, 
imaginem Ilier. Guerinus Ismeni f. in publico ponendam 
curavit ut cujus ingenii monumenta seterna sint, ejus corporis 
quoque memoria ne a posteritate desideretur." 

With all its dignity, the University gave me the horrors as 
a building. I am glad that I had nothing to learn in it. 
One cannot imagine such a narrow compass for a school, 
even though, as the student of a German university, one 
may have suffered a great deal on the benches of the audito- 
rium. The anatomical theatre is a perfect model of the art 
of pressing students together. The audience are piled one 
above another in a tall, pointed funnel. They look down 
upon the narrow space where the table stands ; and, as no 
daylight falls upon it, the professor must demonstrate by 
lamplight. The botanic garden is much more pretty and 
cheerful. Several plants can remain in the ground during 
the winter, if they are set near the walls, or at no great dis- 
tance from them. At the end of October the wdiole is built 
over, and the process of heating is carried on for the few 
remaining months. It is pleasant and instructive to walk 
through a vegetation that is strange to us. With ordinary 
plants, as well as with other objects that have been long 
familiar to us, we at last do not think at all ; and what is 
looking without thinking? Amidst this variety which comes 
upon me quite new, the idea that all forms of plants may, 
perhaps, be developed from a single form, becomes more 
lively than ever. On this principle alone it would be possi- 
ble to define orders and classes, which, it seems to me, has 
hitherto been done in a very arbitrary manner. At this 
point I stand fast in my botanical philosophy, and I do not 
see how I am to extricate myself. The depth and breadth 
of this business seem to me quite equal. 

The great square, called Prato della Valle, is a very wide 
space, where the chief fair is held in June. The wooden 



118 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

booths in the middle of it do not produce the most favorable 
appearance ; but the inhabitants assure me that there will soon 
be afiera of stone here, like that at Verona. One has hopes 
of this already, from the manner in which the Prato is sur- 
rounded, and which affords a very beautiful and imposing 
view. 

A huge oval is surrounded with statues, all representing 
celebrated men who have taught or studied at the Univer- 
sity. Any native or foreigner is allowed to erect a statue 
of a certain size to any countryman or kinsman, as soon as 
the merit of the person and his academical residence at Padua 
are proved. 

A moat filled with w T ater goes round the oval. On the 
four bridges which lead up to it stand colossal figures of 
popes and doges. The other statues, which are smaller, have 
been set up by corporations, private individuals, or foreign- 
ers. The kino; of Sweden caused a figure of Gustavus 
Adolphus to be erected, because, it is said, he once heard a 
lecture in Padua: The Archduke Leopold revived the mem- 
ory of Petrarch and Galileo. The statues are in a good, 
modern style, a few of them rather affected, some very natu- 
ral, and all in the costume of their rank and dignitv- The 
inscriptions deserve commendation. There is nothing in 
them absurd or paltry. 

At any university this would have been a happy thought ; 
and here it is particularly so, because it is very delightful 
to see a whole line of departed worthies thus called back 
again. It will, perhaps, form a very beautiful Prato. when 
the wooden Fiera will have been removed, and one built of 
stone, according to the plan they are said to have made. 

In the consistory of a fraternity dedicated to St. Anthony, 
there are some pictures of an early date, which remind one of 
the old German paintings, and also some by Titian, m which 
may be remarked the great progress which no one has made 
on the other side of the Alps. Immediately afterwards I 
saw works by some of the most modern painters. These 
artists, as they could not hope to succeed in the lofty and 
the serious, have been very happy in hitting the humorous. 
The decollation of John by Piazetta is, in this sense, a capi- 
tal picture, if one can once allow the master's manner. John 
is kneeling, with his hands before him, and his right knee on 
a stone, looking towards heaven. One of the soldiers who 
is binding him is bending round on one side, and looking 
into his face, as if he were wondering at his patient resigna- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 119 

tion. Higher up stands another, who is to deal the fatal 
blow. He does not, however, hold the sword, but makes a 
motion with his hands, like one who is practising the stroke 
beforehand. A third is drawing the sword out of the scab- 
bard. The thought is happy, if not grand ; and the compo- 
sition is striking, and produces the best effect. 

In the Church of the Eremitani I have seen pictures by 
Mantegna, one of the older painters, at which I am aston- 
ished. What a sharp, strict actuality is exhibited in these 
pictures ! It is from this actuality, thoroughly true, — not 
apparent merely, and falsely effective, and appealing solely 
to the imagination, — but solid, pure, bright, elaborated, con- 
scientious, delicate, and circumscribed ; an actuality which 
had about it something severe, credulous, and laborious, — 
it is from this, I say, that the later painters proceeded (as I 
remarked in the pictures by Titian) , in order that by the live- 
liness of their own genius, the energy of their nature, illu- 
mined at the same time by the mind of the predecessors, and 
exalted by their force, they might rise higher and higher, 
and, elevated above the earth, produce forms that were hea- 
venly indeed, but still true. Thus was art developed after 
the barbarous period. 

The hall of audience in the town-house, properly desig- 
nated by the augmentative Salone is such a huge enclos- 
ure, that one cannot conceive it, much less recall it to one's 
immediate memory. It is three hundred feet long, one 
hundred feet broad, and one hundred feet high, measured up 
to the roof, which covers it quite in. So accustomed are 
these people to live in the open air, that the architects look 
out for a market-place to overarch. And there is no ques- 
tion that this huge vaulted space produces quite a peculiar 
effect. It is an enclosed infinity, which has more analogy to 
man's habits and feelings than the starry heavens. The 
latter takes us out of ourselves ; the former insensibly 
brings us back to ourselves. 

For the same reason, I also like to stay in the Church of 
St. Justina. This church, which is eighty-five feet long, and 
high and broad in proportion, is built in a grand and simple 
st3"le. This evening I seated myself in a corner, and 
indulged in quiet contemplation. Then I felt truly alone ; 
for no one in the world, even if he had thought of me for 
the moment, would have looked for me here. 

Now every tiling ought to be packed up again ; for to-mor- 
row morning I set off by water, upon the Brenta. It rained 



120 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

to-day ; hut now it has cleared, and T hope T shall he able 
to see the lagunes and the Bride of the Sea by beautiful 
daylight, and to greet my friends from her bosom. 



VENICE. 

On my page in the Book of Fate, there was written that on 
the evening of the 28th of September, by five o'clock, German 
time, I should see Venice for the first time, as I passed from 
the Brenta into the lagunes, and that soon afterwards, I should 
actually enter and visit this strange island-city, this heaven- 
like republic. So now, Heaven be praised ! Venice is no 
longer to me a bare and a hollow name, which has so long 
tormented me, — me, the mental enemy of mere verbal sounds. 

As the first of the gondoliers came up to the ship (they 
come in order to convey more quickly to Venice those pas- 
sengers who are in a hurry), I recollected an old plaything, 
of which, perhaps, I had not thought for twenty years. My 
father had a beautiful model of a gondola, which he had 
brought with him [from Italy']- H e S(? t a great value upon 
it, and it was considered a great treat when I was allowed to 
play with it. The first beaks of tinned iron-plate, the black 
gondola-gratings, all greeted me like old acquaintances ; and 
I experienced again dear emotions of my childhood which 
had been long unknown. 

I am well lodged at the sign of the Queen of England, not 
far from the Square of St. Mark, which is, indeed, the chief 
advantage of the spot. My windows look upon a narrow 
canal between lofty houses : a bridge of one arch is immedi- 
ately below me, and directly opposite is a narrow, bustling 
alley. Thus am I lodged ; and here I shall remain until I 
have made up my packet for Germany, and until I am 
satiated with the sight of the cit} T . I can now really enjoy 
the solitude for which I have longed so ardently ; for no- 
where does a man feel more solitary than in a crowd, where, 
unknown to every one, he must push his way. Perhaps in 
Venice there is only one person who knows me, and he will 
not come in contact with me all at once. 

Venice, Sept. 28, 178G 
A few words on my journey hither from Padua. The pas- 
sage on the Brenta, in the public vessel, and in good com- 
pany, is highly agreeable. The banks are ornamented with 
.'•miens and villas ; little Tiamlets come down to the water's 
vdga ; and the animated high road may be seen here and 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 121 

there. As the descent of the river is by means of locks, 
there is often a little pause, which may be employed in look- 
ing about the country, and in tasting the fruits, which are 
offered in great abundance. You then enter your vessel 
again, and move on through a world which is itself in mo- 
tion, and full of life and fertility. 

To so many changing forms and images a phenomenon was 
added, which, although derived from Germany, was quite 
in its place here, — I mean two pilgrims, the first whom I 
have seen closely. They have a right to travel gratis in this 
public conveyance ; but, because the rest of the passengers 
dislike coming in contact with them, they do not sit in the 
covered part, but in the after- part, beside the steersman. 
They were stared at as a phenomenon, even at the present 
day ; and as, in former times, many vagabonds had made 
use of this cloak, they were but lightly esteemed. When I 
learned that they were Germans, and could speak no lan- 
guage but their own, I joined them, and found that they 
came from the Paderborn territory. Both of them were 
men of more than fifty years of age, and of a dark but 
good-humored physiognomy. They had first visited the sep- 
ulchre of the Three Kings at Cologne, had then travelled 
through Germany, and were now together on their way back 
to Rome and Upper Italy, whence one intended to set out 
for Westphalia, and the other to pay a visit of adoration to 
St. James of Compostella. 

Their dress was the well-known costume of pilgrims ; but 
the} T looked much better with this tucked-up robe than the 
pilgrims in long taffeta garments whom we are accustomed 
to exhibit at our masquerades. The long cape, the round 
hat, the staff and shell (the latter used as the most innocent 
drinking-vessel) — all had its signification, and its immediate 
use ; while a tin case held their passports. Most remarkable 
of all were their small red morocco pocket-books, in which 
they kept all the little implements that might be wanted for 
any simple necessity. They had taken them out on finding 
that something in their garments wanted mending. 

The steersman, highly pleased to find an interpreter, made 
me ask them several questions ; and thus I learned a great 
deal about their views, and especially about their expedition. 
They made bitter complaints against their brethren in the 
faith, and even against the clergy, both secular and monastic. 
Piety, they said, must be a very scarce commodity, since no 
one would believe in theirs ; but they were treated as vagrants 



122 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

in almost every Catholic country, although they produced the 
route, which had been clerically prescribed, and the passports 
given by the bishop. On the other hand, they described, 
with a great deal of emotion, how well they had been received 
by Protestants, and made special mention of a country 
clergyman in Swabia, and still more of his wife, who had 
prevailed on her somewhat unwilling husband to give them 
an abundant repast, of which they stood in great need. On 
taking leave, the good couple had given them a u conven- 
tion's dollar," * which they found very serviceable as soon 
as they entered the Catholic territory. Upon this, one of 
them said, with all the elevation of which he was capable, 
" We include this lady every day in our prayers, and implore 
God that he will open her eyes, as he has opened her heart 
towards us, and take her, although late, into the bosom of 
the Catholic Church. And thus we hope that we shall meet 
her in paradise hereafter." 

As I sat upon the little gangway which led to the desk, 
I explained as much as was necessary and useful to the 
steersman, and to some other persons w T ho had crowded 
from the cabin into this narrow space. The pilgrims received 
some paltry donations, for the Italians are not fond of giv- 
ing. Upon this they drew out some little consecrated tick- 
ets, on which might be seen the representation of the three 
sainted kings, with some prayers addressed to them. The 
worthy men entreated me to distribute these tickets among 
the little part} 7 , and explain how invaluable they were. In 
this I succeeded perfectly ; for, when the two men appeared 
to be greatly embarrassed as to how the} 7 should find the 
convent devoted to pilgrims in so large a place as Venice, 
the steersman was touched, and promised, that, when they 
landed, he would give a boy a trifle to lead them to that dis- 
tant spot. He added, in confidence, that the}- would not be 
very heartily welcomed. "The institution," he said, k * was 
founded to admit I don't know how many pilgrims ; but now 
it has become greatly contracted, and the revenues are other- 
wise employed." 

During this conversation we had gone down the beautiful 
Brenta, leaving behind us many a noble garden and many :i 
noble palace, and casting a rapid glance at the populous and 
thriving hamlets which lay along the banks. Several gon- 

1 A "convention's dollar "is a dollar coined in consequence of an agreement made 
between several of the German States in Hie year 1750, when the Viennese standard 
was adopted. — Tkans. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 123 

dolas wound about the ship as soon as we had entered the 
lagunes. A Lombard, well acquainted with Venice, asked 
me to accompany him, that we might enter all the quicker, 
and escape the nuisance of the custom-house. Those who 
endeavored to hold us back, he contrived to put off with a 
little drink-money, and so, in a cheerful sunset, we floated 
to the place of our destination. 

Sept. 29 (Michaelmas Day). 
Evening. 

So much has already been told and printed about Venice, 
that I shall not be circumstantial in my description, but 
shall only say how it struck 'me. Now, in this instance 
again, that which makes the chief impression upon me is 
the people, — a great mass, who live an involuntary exist- 
ence determined by the changing circumstances of the mo- 
ment. 

It was for no idle fancy that this race fled to these islands ; 
it was no mere whim which impelled those who followed to 
combine with them ; necessity taught them to look for se- 
curity in a highly disadvantageous situation that afterwards 
became most advantageous, enduing them with talent when 
the whole northern world was immersed in gloom. Their 
increase and their wealth were a necessary consequence. 
New dwellings arose close against dwellings ; rocks took the 
place of sand and marsh ; houses sought the sky, being forced, 
like trees enclosed in a narrow compass, to seek in height 
what they were denied in breadth. Being niggards of every 
inch of ground, as having been from the very first com- 
pressed into a narrow compass, they allowed no more room 
for the streets than was just necessary to separate a row of 
houses from the one opposite, and to afford the citizens a 
narrow passage. Moreover, water supplied the place of 
street, square, and promenade. The Venetian was forced 
to become a new creature ; and thus Venice can only be com- 
pared with itself. The large canal, winding like a serpent, 
yields to no street in the world ; and nothing can be put by 
the side of the space in front of St. Mark's Square — I mean 
that great mirror of water, which is encompassed by Venice 
proper, in the form of a crescent. Across the watery sur- 
face you see to the left the island of St. Georgio Maggiore ; 
to the right, a little farther off, the Guidecca and its canal, 
and, still more distant, the Dogana (custom-house) and the 
entrance into the Canal Grande, where right before us two 



124 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

immense marble temples are glittering in the sunshine. All 
the views and prospects have been so often engraved, that 
my friends will have no difficulty in forming a clear idea of 
them. 

After dinner I hastened to fix my first impression of the 
whole, and without a guide, and merely observing the car- 
dinal points, threw myself into the labyrinth of the city, 
which, though everywhere intersected by larger or smaller 
canals, is again connected by bridges. The narrow and 
crowded appearance of the whole cannot be conceived by 
one who has not seen it. In most cases one can quite or 
nearly measure the breadth of the street by stretching out 
one's arms ; and, in the narrowest, a person would scrape his 
elbows if he walked with his arms akimbo. Some streets. 
indeed, are wider, and here and there is a little square ; but 
comparatively all may be called narrow. 

I easily found the Grand Canal and the principal bridge, 
the Rialto, which consists of a single arch of white marble. 
Looking down from this, one has a fine prospect, — the canal 
full of ships, which bring every necessary from the Conti- 
nent, and put in chiefly at" this place to unload ; while be- 
tween them is a swarm of gondolas. To-day especially, 
being Michaelmas, the view was wonderfully animated. But, 
to give some notion of it, I must go back a little. 

The two principal parts of Venice, which are divided by 
the Grand Canal, are connected by no other bridge than the 
Rialto ; but several means of communication are provided, 
and the river is crossed in open boats at certain fixed points. 
To-day a very pretty effect was produced by the number of 
well-dressed ladies, who, their features concealed beneath 
large black veils, were being ferried over in large parties at 
a time, in order to go to the Church of the Archangel, whose 
festival was being solemnized. I left the bridge, and went 
to one of the points of landing, to see the parties as they 
left the boats. I discovered some very fine forms and faces 
among them. 

After I had become tired of this amusement, I seated m} T - 
self in a gondola, and quitting the narrow streets, with the 
intention of witnessing a spectacle of an opposite description, 
went along the northern part of the Grand Canal, into the 
lagunes, and then entered the Canal della Guidecca, going as 
far as the Square of St. Mark. Now was I also one of the 
birds of the Adriatic Sea, as every Venetian feels himself to 
be whilst reclining in his gondola. I then thought with due 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 125 

honor of my good father, who knew of nothing better than 
to talk about the things I now witnessed. And will it not be 
so with me likewise? All that surrounds me is dignified, — 
a grand, venerable work of combined human energies, a 
noble monument, not of a ruler, but of a people. And if 
their lagunes are gradually filling up, if unwholesome vapors 
are floating over the marsh, if their trade is declining, and 
their power has sunk, still the great place and the essential 
character will not, for a moment, be less venerable to the 
observer. Venice succumbs to time, like every thing that 
has a phenomenal existence. 

Sept. 30. 

Towards evening I again rambled, without a guide, into 
the remotest quarters of the city. The bridges here are all 
provided w r ith stairs, that gondolas, and even larger vessels, 
may pass conveniently under the arches. I sought to find 
my way in and out of this labyrinth, without asking any- 
bod} r , and, on this occasion also, only guiding nryself by the 
points of the compass. One disentangles one's self at last ; 
but it is a wonderful complication, and my manner of obtain- 
ing a sensible impression of it is the best. I have now been 
to the remotest points of the city, and observed the conduct, 
mode of life, manners, and character of the inhabitants ; 
and in every quarter they are different. Gracious Heaven ! 
what a poor, good sort of animal man is, after all ! 

Most of the smaller houses stand immediately on the canals ; 
but there are here and there quays of stone, beautifully 
paved, along which one may take a pleasant walk between 
the water, and the churches and palaces. Particularly 
cheerful and agreeable is the long stone quay on the north- 
ern side, from which the islands are visible, especially Murano, 
which is a Venice on a small scale. The intervening lagunes 
are all alive with little gondolas. 

Sept. 30. Evening. 
To-day I have enlarged my notions of Venice by procuring 
a plan of it. When I had studied it for some time, I ascended 
the Tower of St. Mark, where a unique spectacle is presented 
to the eye. It was noon ; and the sun was so bright, that I 
could see places near and distant without a glass. The tide 
covered the Lagunes ; and, when I turned my eyes towards 
what is called the ci Lido" (this is a narrow strip of earth 
which bounds the lagunes), I saw the sea for the first time 



126 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

with some sails upon it. In the lagunes themselves some 
galleys and frigates are lying, destined to join the Chevalier 
Emo, who is making war on the Algerines, but detained by 
unfavorable winds. The mountains of Padua and Yicenza, 
and the mountain-chain of Tyrol, beautifully bound the 
picture between the north and west. 

Oct. 1. 

I went out and surveyed the city from many points of view ; 
and, as it w r as Sunday, I was struck by the great want of 
cleanliness in the streets, which forced me to make some 
reflections. There seems to be a sort of policy in this matter ; 
for the people scrape the sweepings into the corners, and 
I see large ships going backward and forward, which, at 
several points, lie to, and take off the accumulation. They 
belong to the people of the surrounding islands, who are in 
want of manure. But there is neither consistency nor strict- 
ness in this method. And the want of cleanliness in the city 
is the more unpardonable, as in it as much provision has 
been made for cleaning it as in any Dutch town. 

All the streets are paved, even those in the remotest 
quarters, with bricks at least, which are laid down lengthwise, 
with the edges slightly canted. .The middle of the street, 
where necessary, is raised a little ; while channels are formed 
on each side to receive the water, and convey it into covered 
drains. There are other architectural arrangements in the 
original well-considered plan, which prove the intention of 
the excellent architects to make Venice the most cleanly, as 
well as the most singular, of cities. As I walked along, I 
could not refrain from sketching a body of regulations, an- 
ticipating in thought some superintendent of police, who 
might be in earnest. Thus one always has an impulse and a 
desire to sweep his neighbor's door. 

Oct. 2, 178G. 
Before all things, I hastened to the Carita. I had found 
in Palladio's works that he had planned a monastic build- 
ing here, in which he intended to represent a private resi- 
dence of the rich and hospitable ancients. The plan, which 
was excellently drawn both as a whole and in detail, gave 
me infinite delight; and I hoped to find a marvel. Alas! 
scarcely a tenth part of the edifice is finished. However, 
even this part is worthy of that heavenly genius. There is 
a completeness in the plan, and an accuracy in the execu- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 127 

tion, which I had never before witnessed. One ought to pass 
whole years in the contemplation of such a work. It seems 
to me that I have seen nothing grander, nothing more perfect, 
and I fancy that I am not mistaken. Only imagine the 
admirable artist, born with an inner feeling for the grand 
and the pleasing, now, for the first time, forming himself by 
the ancients, with incredible labor, that he may be the means 
of reviving them. He finds an opportunity to carry out a 
favorite thought in building a convent, which is destined as 
a dwelling for so many monks, and a shelter for so many 
strangers, in the form of an antique private residence. 

The church was already standing, and led to an atrium of 
Corinthian columns. Here one feels delighted, and forgets 
all priestcraft. At one end the sacrist}*, at another a chap- 
ter-room is found ; while there is the finest winding staircase 
in the world, with a wide well, and the stone steps built into 
the wall, and so laid that one supports another. One is never 
tired of going up and down this staircase ; and we may 
judge of its success from the fact that Palladio himself 
declares that he has succeeded. The fore-court leads to the 
large inner court. Unfortunately, nothing is finished of the 
building which was to surround this, except the left side. 
Here there are three rows of columns, one over the other. 
On the ground-floor are the halls ; on the first story is an arch- 
way in front of the cells ; and the upper story consists of a 
plain wall with windows. However, this description should 
be illustrated by a reference to the sketches. I will just add 
a word about the execution. 

Only the capitals and bases of the columns, and the key- 
stones of the arches, are of hewn stone : all the rest is — I 
will not say of brick, but — of burned clay. This descrip- 
tion of tile I never saw before. The frieze and cornice are 
of the same material, as well as the parts of the arch. All 
is but half burnt ; and lastly the building is put together with 
a very little lime. As it stands, it looks as if it had been pro- 
duced at one cast. If the whole had been finished, and proper- 
ly rubbed up and colored, it would have been a charming sight. 

However, as so often happens with buildings of a modern 
time, the plan was too large. The artist had presupposed, 
not only that the existing convent would be pulled down, but 
also that the adjoining houses would be bought ; and here 
money and inclination probably began to fail. Kind Destiny, 
thou who hast formed and perpetuated so much stupidity, 
why didst thou not allow this work to be completed ! 



128 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Oct. 3. 

The Church II Redentore is a large and beautiful work 
by Palladio, with a facade even more worthy of praise than 
that of St. Giorgio. These works, which have often been 
engraved, must be placed before you to elucidate what is 
said. I will 011I3' add a few words. 

Palladio was thoroughly imbued with the antique mode of 
existence, and felt the narrow, petty spirit of his own age, 
like a great man, who will not give way to it, but strives to 
mould, as far as possible, all that it leaves him, into accord- 
ance with his own noble ideas. From a slight perusal of his 
book I conclude that he was displeased with the continued 
practice of building Christian churches after the form of the 
ancient Basilica, and therefore tried to make his own sacred 
edifices approximate to the form of the antique temple. 
Hence arose certain discrepancies, which, as it seemed to me, 
are happily avoided in II Redentore, but are rather obvious 
in the St. Giorgio. Volckmann says something about it, but 
does not hit the nail on the head. 

The interior of II Redentore is likewise admirable. 
Every thing, including even the designs of the altars, is by 
Palladio. Unfortunately, the niches, which should have been 
filled with statues, are glaring with wooden figures, flat, 
carved, and painted. 

Oct. 3. 

In honor of St. Francis, St. Peter's capuchins have splen- 
didly adorned a side altar. There was nothing to be seen of 
stone but the Corinthian capitals : all the rest seemed to 
be covered with tasteful but splendid embroidery in the 
arabesque style ; and the effect was as pretty as could be 
desired. I particularly admired the broad tendrils and 
foliage, embroidered in gold. Going nearer, I discovered 
an ingenious deception. All that I had taken for gold was, 
in fact, straw pressed flat, and glued upon paper, according 
to some beautiful outlines ; while the ground was painted with 
lively colors. This is done with such variety and tact, that 
the design, which was probably worked in the convent itself 
with a material that was worth nothing, must have cost several 
thousand dollars, if the material had been genuine. It 
might, on occasion, be advantageously imitated. 

On one of the quays, and in front of the water, I have 
often remarked a little fellow telling stories, in the Venetian 
dialect, to a greater or less concourse of auditors. Unfor- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 129 

tunately I cannot understand a word ; but I observe that no 
one laughs, though the audience, who are composed of the 
lowest class, occasionally smile. There is nothing striking 
or ridiculous in the man's appearance, but, on the contrary, 
something very sedate, with such admirable variety and pre- 
cision in his gestures, that they evince art and reflection. 

Oct. 3. 

With m} r plan in my hand, I endeavored to find my way 
through the strangest labyrinth to the Church of the Mendi- 
canti. Here is the conservatorium, which stands in the high- 
est repute at the present day. The ladies performed an 
oratorio behind the grating. The church was filled with 
hearers, the music was very beautiful, and the voices were 
magnificent. An alto sung the part of King Saul, the chief 
personage in the poem. Of such a voice I had no notion 
whatever. Some passages of the music were excessively 
beautiful ; and the words, which were Latin, most laughably 
Italianized in some places, were perfectly adapted for singing. 
Music here has a wide field. 

The performance would have been a source of great 
enjoyment, if the accursed Maestro cli Capella had not 
beaten time, with a roll of music, against the grating, as 
conspicuously as if he had to do with schoolboys whom he 
was instructing. As the girls had repeated the piece often 
enough, his noise was quite unnecessary, and destroyed all 
impression, as much as he would, who, in order to make a 
beautiful statue intelligible to us, should stick scarlet patches 
on the joints. The foreign sound destroys all harmony. 
Now, this man is a musician, and yet he seems not to be 
sensible of this ; or, more property speaking, he chooses to 
let his presence be known by an impropriety, when it would 
have been much better to allow his value to be perceived by 
the perfection of the execution. I know that this is the 
fault of the French ; but I did not give the Italians credit for 
it, and yet the public seems accustomed to it. This is not 
the first time that that which spoils enjoyment has been 
supposed to be indispensable to it. 

Oct. 3. 

Yesterday evening I went to the opera at the St. Moses 

(for the theatres take their name from the church to which 

they lie nearest). Nothing very delightful. In the plan, 

the music, and the singers, that energy was wanting which 



130 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

alone can elevate opera to the highest point. One conkl not 
say of an} 7 part that it was bad ; but the two female actresses 
alone took pains, not so much to act well, but to set them- 
selves off, and to please. That is something, after all. 
These two actresses have beautiful figures and good voices, 
and are nice, lively, compact little bodies. Among the men, 
on the other hand, there is no trace of national power, or 
even of pleasure, in working on the imaginations of their 
audience. Neither is there among them any voice of decided 
brilliancy. 

The ballet, which was wretchedly conceived, was con- 
demned as a whole ; but some excellent dancers and dan- 
seuses, the latter of whom considered it their duty to make 
the spectators acquainted with all their personal charms, 
were heartily applauded. 

Oct. 5. 

To-day, however, I saw another comedy, which gave me 
more pleasure. In the ducal palace I heard the public dis- 
cussion of a law-case. It was important, and, happily for 
me, was brought forward in the holidays. One of the advo- 
cates had all the qualifications for an exaggerated buffo. 
His figure was short and fat, but supple : in profile his fea- 
tures were monstrously prominent. He had a stentorian 
voice, and a vehemence as if every thing that he said came 
in earnest from the very bottom of his heart. I call this a 
comedy ; because, probably, every thing had been already 
prepared when the public exhibition took place. The judges 
knew what they had to say, and the parties what they had to 
expect. However, this plan pleases me infinitely more than 
our hobbling law-affairs. I will endeavor to give some 
notion of the particulars, and of the neat, natural, and unos- 
tentatious manner in which every thing takes place. 

In a spacious hall of the palace, the judges were sitting on 
one side, in a half-circle. Opposite to them, in a tribune 
which could hold several persons, were the advocates for 
both parties ; and upon a bench immediately in front of 
them, the plaintiff and defendant in person. The advocate 
for the plaintiff had descended from the tribune, since there 
was to be no controversy at this day's sitting. All the doc- 
uments on both sides were to be read, although they were 
already printed. 

A lean clerk, in a black scanty gown, and with a thick 
bundle in his hand, prepared to perform the oflice of a 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 131 

reader. The hall was completely crammed with persons 
who came to see and to hear. The point of law itself, and 
the persons whom it concerned, must have appeared highly 
important to the Venetians. 

Trust-estates are so decidedly secured in Venice, that a 
property once stamped with this character preserves it for- 
ever ; though it may have been divested ages ago by appro- 
priations or other circumstances, and though it may have 
passed through ever so many hands. When the matter 
comes into dispute, the descendants of the first family 
recover their right, and the property must be delivered up. 

On this occasion the discussion was highly important ; for 
the action was brought against the doge himself, or rather 
against his wife, who, veiled by her zendal, or little hood, sat 
only at a little distance from the plaintiff. She was a lady 
of a certain age, of noble stature, and with well-formed fea- 
tures, in which there was something of an earnest, not to 
say fretful, character. The Venetians make it a great boast 
that the princess in her own palace is obliged to appear 
before them and the tribunal. 

When the clerk began to read, I for the first time clearly 
discerned the business of a little man who sat on a low stool 
behind a small table opposite the judges, and near the advo- 
cates. More especially I learned the use of an hour-glass, 
which was placed before him. As long as the clerk reads, 
time is not heeded ; but the advocate is only allowed a cer- 
tain time, if he speaks in the course of the reading. The 
clerk reads, and the hour-glass lies in a horizontal position, 
with the little man's hand upon it. As soon as the advo- 
cate opens his mouth, the glass is raised, and sinks again 
as soon as he is silent. It is the great duty of the advocate 
to make remarks on what is read, to introduce cursory 
observations, in order to excite and challenge attention. 
This puts the little Saturn in a state of the greatest per- 
plexity. He is obliged every moment to change the hori- 
zontal and vertical position of the glass, and finds himself 
in the situation of the evil spirits in the puppet-show, who, 
by the quickly varying " Berliche, BarlochQ'*'' of the mis- 
chievous Ilausivurst, 1 are puzzled whether they are to come 
or to go. 

1 An allusion to the comic scone in the puppet-play of Faust, from which Goethe 
took the subject of his poem. One of the two ma^ie words {Iierliche, Jierloche) 
summons the devils, the other drives them away; and the Hansuwrst (or " buffoon "), 
in a mock-incantation scene, perplexes the fiends by uttering one word after the 
other as rapidly as possible. — TlUNS. 



132 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Whoever has heard documents rend over in a law-court 
can imagine the reading on this occasion, — quick and 
monotonous, but plain and articulate enough. The ingenious 
advocate contrives to interrupt the tedium by jests ; and the 
public shows its delight in his jokes by immoderate laughter. 
I must mention one, the most striking of those I could 
understand. The reader was just reciting the document by 
which one who was considered to have been illegally pos- 
sessed of it had disposed of the property in question. The 
advocate bade him read more slowly ; and when he plainly 
uttered the words, "I give and bequeath," the orator flew 
violently at the clerk, and .cried, u What will you give, 
what will you bequeath, you poor starved-out devil ? Noth- 
ing in the world belongs to you. However," he continued, 
as he seemed to collect himself, " the illustrious owner was 
in the same predicament. He wished to give, he wished 
to bequeath, that which belonged to him no more than to 
you." A burst of inextinguishable laughter followed this 
sail} 7 , but the hour-glass at once resumed its horizontal posi- 
tion. The reader went mumbling on, and made a saucy face 
at the advocate. But all these jokes are prepared before- 
hand. 

Oct. 4. 
I was yesterday at the play in the theatre of St. Luke, 
and was highly pleased. I saw a piece acted extempore in 
masks, with a great deal of nature, energy, and vigor. The 
actors are not, indeed, all equal. The pantaloon is excellent ; 
and one of the actresses, who is stout and well-built, speaks 
admirably, and deports herself cleverly, though she is no 
extraordinary actress. The subject of the piece is extrava- 
gant, and resembled that which is treated by us under the 
name of Der Verschlag ( u the partition ") . With inexhausii- 
variety, it amused us for more than three hours. But even 
here the people is the base upon which every thing rests. The 
spectators are themselves actors, and the multitude is melted 
into one whole with the stage. All day long the buyer and 
the seller, the beggar, the sailor, the female gossip, the advo- 
cate and his opponent, are living and acting in the square 
and on the bench, in the gondolas and in the palaces, and 
make it their business to talk and to asseverate, to cry and 
to offer for sale, to sing and to play, to curse and to brawl. 
In the evening they go into the theatre, and see and hear the 
life of the day artificially put together, prettily set off, inter- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 133 

woven with a story, removed from reality by the masks, and 
brought near to it by manners. In all this they take a 
childish delight, and again shout and clap, and make a noise. 
From day to night, nay, from midnight to midnight, it is 
always the same. 

I have not often seen more natural acting than that of 
these masks. It is such acting as can only be sustained by 
a remarkably happy talent and long practice. 

While I am writing this, they are making a tremendous 
noise on the canal under my window, though it is past mid- 
night. Whether for good or for evil, they are always doing 
something. 

Oct. 4. 

I have now heard public orators ; viz., three fellows in the 
square and on the stone bench (each telling tales after his 
fashion) , two advocates, two preachers, and the actors, among 
whom I must especially commend the pantaloon. All these 
have something in common, both because they belong to one 
and the same nation, — which, as it always lives in public, 
always adopts an impassioned manner of speaking, — and be- 
cause they imitate each other. There is, besides, a marked 
language of gesticulations, with which they accompany the 
expressions of their intentions, views, and feelings. 

This day was the festival of St. Francis ; and I was in his 
church, Alle Vigne. The loud voice of the capuchin was 
accompanied by the cries of the salesmen in front of the 
church, as by an antiphony. I stood at the church-door be- 
tween the two, and the effect was singular enough. 

Oct. 5. 

This morning I was in the arsenal, which I found interest- 
ing enough, though I know nothing of maritime affairs ; and 
visited the lower school there. It lias an appearance like 
that of an old family, which still bustles about, although its 
best time of blossom and fruit has passed. Uy paying atten- 
tion to the handicraftsmen, 1 have seen much that is remark- 
able, and have been on board an eighty-four-gun ship, the 
hull of which is just completed. 

Six months ago, a thing of the sort was burned down to 
the water's edge, off the Riva dei Schiavoni. The powder- 
room was not xvvy full ; and. when it blew up, it did no great 
damage. The windows of the neighboring houses were de- 
stroyed. 



134 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

I have seen worked the finest oak from Tstria, and have 
made my observations in return upon this valuable tree. 
That knowledge of the natural things used by man as mate- 
rials, and employed for his wants, which I have acquired 
with so much difficulty, has been incalculably serviceable in 
explaining to me the proceedings of artists and artisans. 
The knowledge of mountains, and of the stone taken out of 
them, has been to me a great advance in art. 

Oct. 5. 

To give a notion of the Bucentaur in one word, I should 
sa} r that it is a state-galley. The older one, of which we 
still have drawings, justified this appellation still more than 
the present one, which, by its splendor, makes us forget its 
original. 

I am always returning to my old opinions. When a genu- 
ine subject is given to an artist, his productions will be some- 
thing genuine also. Here the artist was commissioned to 
form a galley worthy to carry the heads of the republic on 
the highest festivals in honor of its ancient rule on the sea ; 
and the problem has been admirably solved. The vessel is 
all ornament : we ought to say it is overladen with orna- 
ment. It is altogether one piece of gilt carving, for no other 
use but that of a pageant to exhibit to the people its leaders 
in right noble style. We know well enough that a people 
who likes to deck out its boats is no less pleased to see their 
rulers bravely adorned. This state-galley is a good index to 
show what the Venetians were, and what they considered 
themselves. 

Oct. 5. Night. 
I have come home from a tragedy, and am still laughing ; 
and I must at once make the jest secure upon paper. The 
piece was not bad. The author had brought together all the 
tragic matadors, and the actors played well. Most of the 
situations were well known, but some were new and highly 
felicitous. There are two fathers who hate each other ; sons 
and daughters of these severed families, who respectively are 
passionately in love with each other; and one couple is even 
privately married. Wild and cruel work goes on ; and at 
last nothing remains to render the young people happy, but 
to make the two fathers kill each other, upon which the cur- 
tain falls amid the liveliest applause. Now the applause 
becomes more vehement, now fuora was called out ; and 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 135 

this lasted until the two principal couples vouchsafed to 
crawl forward from behind the curtain, make their bow, and 
retire at the opposite side. 

The public was not yet satisfied, but went on clapping, and 
crying, u I morti! ' till the two dead men also came for- 
ward, and made their bow, when some voices cried, " Bravi i 
morti I" The applause detained them for a long time, till 
at last they were allowed to depart. The effect is infinitely 
more droll to the eye-and-ear witness, who, like me, has 
ringing in his ears the "bravo! bravi!" which the Italians 
have incessantly in their mouths, and then suddenly hears 
the dead also called forward with this word of honor. 

AVe of the north can say " good-night " at any hour, when 
we take leave after dark ; but the Italian says, " Felicissima 
notte" only once, and that is when the candles are brought 
into a room. Day and night are thus divided, and some- 
thing quite different is meant. So impossible is it to trans- 
late the idioms of any language. From the highest to the 
lowest word, all has reference to the peculiarities of the na- 
tives, in character, opinions, or circumstances. 

Oct. 6. 

The tragedy yesterday taught me a great deal. In the 
first place, I have heard how the Italians treat and declaim 
their eleven-syllable iambics ; and, in the next place, I have 
understood the tact of Gozzi in combining masks with his 
tragic personages. This is the proper sort of play for this 
people, which likes to be moved in a rough fashion. It has 
no tender, heartfelt sympathy for the unfortunate person- 
age, but is only pleased when the hero speaks well. The 
Italians attach a great deal of importance to the speaking ; 
and then they like to laugh, or to hear something silly. 

Their interest in the drama is like that in the real event. 
When the tyrant gave his son a sword, and required him to 
kill his own wife, who was standing opposite, the people 
began loudly to express their disapprobation of this demand ; 
and there was a great risk that the piece would have been 
interrupted. They insisted that the old man should take his 
sword back, in which case; all the subsequent situations in the 
drama would have been completely spoiled! At last the dis- 
tressed son plucked up courage, advanced to the proscenium, 
and humbly entreated that the audience would have patience 
for a moment, assuring them that all would turn out to their 
entire satisfaction. But, even judging from an artistical 



136 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

point of view, this situation was, under the circumstances, 
silly and unnatural, and I commended the people for their 
feeling. 

I can now better understand the long speeches and the 
frequent dissertations, pro and con, in the Greek tragedy. 
The Athenians liked still more to hear speaking, and were still 
better judges of it, than the Italians. They learned some- 
thing from the courts of law, where they spent the whole day. 

Oct. 6. 

In those works of Palladio which are completed, I have 
found much to blame, together with much that is highly valu- 
able. While I was reflecting how far I was right or wrong 
in setting my judgment in opposition to that of so extraordi- 
nary a man, I felt as if he stood by and said, " I did so and 
so against my will, but, nevertheless, I did it, because in 
this manner alone was it possible for me, under the given 
circumstances, to approximate to my highest idea." 

The more I consider the matter, the more it seems to me 
that Palladio, while contemplating the height and width of 
an already existing church, or of an old house to which he 
was to attach facades, only considered, " How. will you give 
the greatest form to these dimensions? Some part of the 
detail must, from the necessity of the case, be put out of its 
place, or spoiled, and something unseemly is sure to arise 
here and there. Be that as it may, the whole will have a 
grand style, and } 7 ou will be pleased with your work." 

And thus he carried out the great image which he had 
within his soul, just to the point where it was not quite suita- 
ble, and where he was obliged, in the detail, to mutilate or to 
overcrowd it. 

On the other hand, the wing of the Carita cannot be too 
highly prized ; for here the artist's hands were free, and he 
could follow the bent of his own mind without constraint. If 
the convent were finished, there would, perhaps, be no work 
of architecture more perfect throughout the present world. 

How he thought and how he worked become more and 
more clear to me, the more I read his works, and reflect how 
lie treated the ancients ; for he says few words, but they are 
all important. The fourth book, which illustrates the antique 
temples, is a good introduction to a judicious examination of 
ancient remains. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 137 

Oct. 7. 

Yesterdaj* evening I saw the Electra of Crebillon, that is 
to say a translation, at the theatre St. Crisostomo. I can- 
not say how absurd the piece appeared to me, and how ter- 
ribly it tired me out. 

The actors are generally good, and know how to put off 
the public with single passages. 

Orestes alone has three narratives poetically set off in 
one scene. Electra, a pretty little woman, of the middle size 
and stature, with almost French vivacity, and with a good 
deportment, delivered the verses beautifully, only she acted 
the part madly from beginning to end, which, alas ! it re- 
quires. However, I have again learned something. The 
Italian iambic, which is invariably of eleven syllables, is 
very inconvenient for declamation, because the last syllable 
is always short, and causes an involuntary elevation of the 
declaimer's voice. 

This morning I was present at high mass, which annually, 
on this day, the doge must attend, in the Church of St. Jus- 
tina, to commemorate an old victory over the Turks. When 
the gilded barks which carry the princes and a portion of 
the nobility approach the little square ; when the boatmen, 
in their rare liveries, are plying their red-painted oars ; when, 
on the shore, the clergy and the religious fraternities are 
standing, pushing, moving about, and waiting with their 
lighted torches, fixed upon poles and portable silver chan- 
deliers ; then, when the gangways covered with carpet are 
placed from the vessels to the shore, and first the full violet 
dresses of the Savii, next the ample red robes of the sena- 
tors, arc unfolded upon the pavement, and, lastly, when the 
old doge, adorned with his golden Phrygian cap, in his long 
golden talar and his ermine cloak, steps out of the vessel, — 
when all this, I say, takes place in a little square before the 
portal of a church, one feels as if he were looking at an old 
worked tapestry, exceedingly well designed and colored. To 
me, northern fugitive as I am, this ceremony gave a great 
deal of pleasure. With us, who parade nothing but short 
coats in our processions of pomp, and who conceive nothing 
greater than one performed with shouldered arms, such an 
affair might be out of place. But these trains, these peaceful 
celebrations, are all in keeping here. 

The doge is a well-grown and well-shaped man, who, per- 
haps, suffers from ill health, but nevertheless, for dignity's 
sake, bears himself upright under his heavy robe. In other 



138 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

respects he looks like the grandpapa of the whole race, and 
is kind and affable. His dress is very becoming. The little 
cap which he wears under the large one does not offend the 
eye, resting as it does upon the whitest and finest hair in the 
world. 

About fifty nobili, with long dark-red trains, were with 
him. For the most part, they were handsome men ; and there 
was not a single uncouth figure among them. Several of 
them were tall, with large heads ; so that the white curly wigs 
were very becoming to them. Their features are prominent. 
The flesh of their faces is soft and white, without looking 
flabby and disagreeable. On the contrary, there is an ap- 
pearance of talent without exertion, repose, self-confidence, 
easiness of existence ; and a certain joyousness pervades the 
whole. 

When all had taken their places in the church, and mass 
began, the fraternities entered by the chief door, and went 
out at the side-door to the right, after they had received holy 
water in couples, and made their obeisance to the high altar, 
to the doge, and the nobility. 

Night. 

For this evening I had bespoke the celebrated song of the 
mariners, who chant Tasso and Ariosto to melodies of their 
own. This must be actually ordered, as it is not to be heard 
as a thing of course, but rather belongs to the half-forgotten 
traditions of former times. I entered a gondola by moon- 
light, with one singer before, and the other behind me. They 
sing their song, taking up the verses alternately. The mel- 
ody, which we know through Rousseau, is of a middle kind, 
between choral and recitative, maintaining throughout the 
same cadence, without any fixed time. The modulation is 
also uniform, only varying with a sort of declamation, both 
tone and measure, according to the subject of the verse. 
But the spirit, the life of it, is as follows : — 

Without inquiring into the construction of the melod}', 
suffice it to say, that it is admirably suited to that eas}" class 
of people, who, always humming something or other to them- 
selves, adapt such tunes to any little poem they know by 
heart. 

Sitting on the shore of an island, on the bank of a canal, 
or on the side of a boat, a gondolier will sing away with a 
loud penetrating voice, — the multitude admire force above 
everything, — anxious only to be heard as far as possible. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 139 

Over the silent mirror it travels far. Another in the dis- 
tance, who is acquainted with the melody, and knows the 
words, takes it up, and answers with the next verse, and 
then the first replies ; so that the one is, as it were, the echo 
of the other. The song continues through whole nights, and 
is kept up without fatigue. The farther the singers are from 
each other, the more touching sounds the strain. The best 
place for the listener is halfway between the two. 

In order to let me hear it, they landed on the bank of the 
Guidecca, and took up different positions by the canal. I 
walked backward and forward between them, so as to leave 
the one whose turn it was to sing, and to join the one who 
had just left off. Then it was that the effect of the strain 
first opened upon me. As a voice from the distance, it 
sounds in the highest degree strange, — as a lament without 
sadness : it has an incredible effect, and is moving even to 
tears. I ascribed this to my own state of mind ; but my old 
boatman said, U E singolare, como quel canto intenerirsce, e 
molto piu quando e piu ben cantato." He wished that I 
could hear the women of the Lido, especially those of Mala- 
mocco and Pelestrina. These also, he told me, chanted 
Tasso and Ariosto to the same or similar melodies. He 
went on, "In the evening, while their husbands are on the 
sea, fishing, they are accustomed to sit on the beach, and 
with shrill, penetrating voice to make these strains resound, 
until they catch from the distance the voices of their part- 
ners, and in this way they keep up a communication with 
them." Is not that beautiful ? And yet it is very possible 
that one who heard them close by would take little pleasure 
in such tones, which have to vie with the waves of the sea. 
Human, however, and true, becomes the song in this way. 
Thus is life given to the melody on whose dead elements we 
should otherwise have been sadly puzzled. It is the song of 
one solitary, singing at a distance, in the hope that another 
of kindred feelings and sentiments may hear and answer. 

Venice, Oct. 8, 1786. 
I paid a visit to the Palace Pisani Moretta, for the sake 
of a charming picture by Paul Veronese. The females of the 
family of Darius are represented kneeling before Alexander 
and Hephaestion : his mother, who is in the foreground, mis- 
takes Heplnajstion for the king ; turning away from her, he 
points to Alexander. A strange story is told about this 
painting. The artist had been well received and for a long 



140 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

time honorably entertained in the palaee : in return, he 
secretly painted the picture, and left it behind him as a 
present, rolled up under his bed. Certainly it well deserves 
to have had a singular origin, for it gives an idea of all the 
peculiar merits of this master. The great art with which lie 
manages, by a skilful distribution of light and shade, and 
by an equally clever contrast of the local colors, to produce 
a most delightful harmony, without throwing any sameness 
of tone over the whole picture, is here most strikingly visi- 
ble. For the picture is in excellent preservation, and stands 
before us almost with the freshness of yesterday. Indeed, 
whenever a painting of this order has suffered from neglect, 
our enjoyment of it is marred on the spot, even before we 
are conscious what the cause may be. 

Whoever feels disposed to quarrel with the artist on the 
score of costume has only to say he ought to have painted a 
scene of the sixteenth century ; and the matter is at an end. 
The gradation in the expression, from the mother through the 
wife to the daughters, is in the highest degree true and happy. 
The youngest princess, who kneels behind all the rest, is a 
beautiful girl, and has a very pretty but somewhat inde- 
pendent and haughty countenance. Her position does not 
at all seem to please her. 

My old gift of seeing the world with the eyes of that 
painter whose pictures have most recenth T made an impres- 
sion on me, has occasioned me some peculiar reflections. It 
is evident that the eye forms itself by the objects which from 
youth up it is accustomed to look upon ; and so the Venetian 
artist must see all things in a clearer and brighter light than 
other men. We, whose eye when out of doors falls on a 
dingy soil, which, when not muddy, is dusty, and which, 
always colorless, gives a sombre hue to the reflected rays, or 
at home spend our lives in close, narrow rooms, can neve* 
attain to such a cheerful view of nature. 

As I floated down the lagunes in the full sunshine, and 
observed how the figures of the gondoliers in their motley 
costume, and as the} 7 rowed, lightly moving above the sides 
of the gondola, stood out from the bright green surface, and 
against the blue sky, I caught the best and freshest type 
possible of the Venetian school. The sunshine brought out 
the local colors with dazzling brilliancy ; and the shades even 
were so luminous, that, comparatively, they in their turn 
might serve as lights. And the same may be said of the 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 141 

reflection from the sea-green water. All was painted chiaro 
nell chiaro; so that foamy waves and lightning-flashes were 
necessary to give it the last finish (um die Tdpfchen auf 
" 1 " zu setzen). 

Titian and Paul have this brilliancy in the highest degree ; 
and. whenever we do not find it in any of their works, the 
piece is either damaged or has been touched up. 

The cupola and vaulting of St. Mark's, with its side-walls, 
are covered with paintings, — a mass of richly colored figures 
on a golden ground, all in mosaic-work ; some of them very 
good, others but poor, according to the masters who fur- 
nished the cartoons. 

Circumstances here have strangely impressed on my mind 
how every thing depends on the first invention, and that this 
constitutes the right standard, the true genius; since with 
little square pieces of glass (and here not in the soberest 
manner) it is possible to imitate the good as well as the 
bad. The art which furnished to the ancients their pave- 
ments, and to the Christians the vaulted veilings of their 
churches, fritters itself away in our days on snuff-box lids 
and bracelet-clasps. The present times are worse even thau 
one thinks. 

Venice, Oct. 8, 1786. 

In the Farsetti Palace, there is a valuable collection of casts 
from the best antiques. I pass over all such as I had seen 
before at Mannheim or elsewhere, and mention only new 
acquaintances, — a Cleopatra in intense repose, with the 
asp coiled round her arm, and sinking into the sleep of 
death ; a Niobe shrouding with her robe her youngest daugh- 
ter from the arrows of Apollo; some gladiators; a winged 
genius resting in his flight ; some philosophers, both in sit- 
ting and standing postures. 

They are works from which, for thousands of years to 
come, the world may receive delight and instruction, without 
ever being able to equal with their thanks the merits of the 
artists. 

Many speaking busts transported me to the old, glorious 
times. Only I felt, alas ! how backward I am in these studies. 
However, 1 will go on with them : at least I know the way. 
Palladio has opened the road for me to this and every other 
ail and life. That sounds, probably, somewhat strange, and 
yet not so paradoxical as when Jacob Bohme says, that, by 
seeing a pewter platter by a ray from Jupiter, he was 



142 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

enlightened as to the whole universe. There is also in this 
collection a fragment of the entablature of the temple of 
Antoninus and Faustina, in Rome. 

The bold front of this noble piece of architecture remind- 
ed me of the capital of the Pantheon at Mannheim. It is, 
indeed, something very different from our queer saints, piled 
up one above the other on little consoles, after the Gothic 
style of decoration ; something different from our tobacco- 
pipe-like shafts, our little steeple-crowned towers and foli- 
ated terminals. From all taste for these I am now, thank 
God, set free forever ! 

I will further mention a few works of statuary, which, as 
I passed along these last few days, I have observed with 
astonishment and instruction. Before the gate of the Arsenal 
two huge lions of white marble : the one is half recumbent, 
raising himself up on his fore-feet ; the other is lying, — noble 
emblems of the variety of life. They are of such huge 
proportions, that all around appears little, and man himself 
would become as nought, did not sublime objects elevate 
him. They are of the best times of Greece, and were brought 
here from the Piraeus, in the better days of the Republic. 

From Athens, too, in all probability, came two bas-reliefs 
which have been introduced in the Church of St. Justina, the 
conqueress of the Turks. Unfortunately they are in some 
degree hidden by the church-seats. The sacristan called my 
attention to them, on account of the tradition that Titian 
modelled from them the beautiful angel in his picture of the 
martyrdom of St. Peter. The relievos represent genii, who 
are decking themselves out with the attributes of the gods, — 
so beautiful in truth as to transcend all idea or conception. 

Next I contemplated with quite peculiar feelings the naked 
colossal statute of Marcus Agrippa, in the court of a palace : 
a dolphin, which is twisting itself by his side, points out the 
naval hero. How does such an heroic representation make 
the mere man equal to the gods ! 

I took a close view of the horses of St. Mark's. When 
one looks up at them from below, it is easy to see that they 
are spotted : in places they exhibit a beautiful yellow-metallic 
lustre, in others a coppery green has run over them. View- 
ing them more closely, one sees distinctly that once they were 
gilt all over ; and long streaks are still to be seen over them, 
as the barbarians did not attempt to file off the gold, but 
tried to cut it off. That, too, is well : thus the shape at 
least has been preserved. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 143 

A glorious team of horses : I should like to hear the opinion 
of a good judge of horse-flesh. What seemed strange to mo 
was, that, closely viewed, they appear heavy, while from the 
piazza below they look as light as deer. 

Oct. 8, 178G. 

Yesterday I set out early, with my tutelary genius, for the 
Lido, — the tongue of land which shuts in the lagunes, and 
divides them from the sea. We landed, and walked straight 
across the isthmus. I heard a loud hollow murmur : it was 
the sea. I soon saw it : it crested high against the shore, 
as it retired. It was about noon, and time of ebb. I have 
then at last seen the sea with my own eyes, and followed 
it on its beautiful bed, just as it quitted it. I wished the 
children had been there to gather the shells : child-like, I 
myself picked up plenty of them. However, I attempted to 
make them useful : I tried to dry in them some of the fluid 
of the cuttle-fish, which here dart away from you in shoals. 

On the Lido, not far from the sea, is the burial-place of 
Englishmen, and, a little farther on, of the Jews. Both alike 
are refused the privilege of resting in consecrated ground. 
I found here the tomb of Smith, the noble English consul, 
and of his first wife. It is to him that I owe my first copy 
of Palladio. I thanked him for it, here in his unconsecrated 
grave. And not only unconsecrated, but half buried, is the 
tomb. The Lido is at best but a sand-bank (daune) . The 
sand is carried from it backward and forward by the wind, 
and, thrown up in heaps, is encroaching on every side. In 
a short time the monument, which is tolerably high, will no 
longer be visible. 

lint the sea — it is a grand sight! I will try and get a sail 
upon it some day in a fishing-boat. The gondolas never 
venture out so far. 

Oct. 8, 178G. 
On the seacoast I found, also, several plants, whose char- 
acters, similar to others I already knew, enabled me to rec- 
ognize pretty well their properties. They are all alike, fat 
and strong, full of sap, and clammy ; and it is evident that 
the old salt of the sandy soil", but still more the saline atmos- 
phere, gives them these properties. Like aquatic plants, 
they abound in sap, and are fleshy and tough, like moun- 
tainous ones. Those whose leaves show a tendency to put 
forth prickles, after the manner of thistles, have them ex- 



144 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

treinely sharp and strong. I found a bush with leaves of 
this kind. It looked very much like our harmless colt's- 
foot, only here it is armed with sharp weapons, — the leaves 
like leather, as also are the seed-vessels, and the stalk very 
thick and succulent. I bring with me seeds and specimens 
of the leaves (Ei^yngium maritimum) . 

The fish-market, with its numberless marine productions, 
afforded me much amusement. I often go there to contem- 
plate the poor captive inhabitants of the sea. 

Venice, Oct. 9, 1780. 

A delicious day, from morning to night. I have been 
towards Chiozza, as far as Pelestrina, where are the great 
structures called " Murazzi," which the republic lias caused 
to be raised against the sea. They are of hewn stone, and 
properly are intended to protect from the fury of the wild 
element the tongue of land, called the u Lido," which sepa- 
rates the lagunes from the sea. 

The lagunes are the work of old nature. First of all, the 
land and tide, the ebb and flow, working against one another, 
and then the gradual sinking of the primal waters, were, to- 
gether, the causes why, at the upper end of the Adriatic, we 
find a pretty extensive range of marshes, which, covered by 
the llood-tide, are partly left bare by the ebb. Art took 
possession of the highest spots ; and thus arose Venice, formed 
out of a group of a hundred isles, and surrounded by hun- 
dreds more. Moreover, at an incredible expense of money 
and labor, deep canals have been dug through the marshes, 
in order, that, at the time of high water, ships-of-war might 
pass to the chief points. What human industry and wit 
contrived and executed of old, skill and industry must now 
keep up. The Lido, a long narrow strip of land, separates 
the lagunes from the sea, which can enter at only two points, 

— at the castle and at the opposite end, near Chiozza. The 
tide flows in usually twice a day, and with the ebb car- 
ries out the waters twice, and always by the same channel 
and in the same direction. The flood covers the lower 
parts of the morass, but leaves the higher, if not dry, yet 
visible. 

The case would be quite altered, were the sea to make 
new ways for itself to attack the tongue of land, and flow in 
and out wherever it chose. Not to mention that the little 
villages on the Lido — viz., Pelestrina, St. Peter's, and others 

— would be overwhelmed, the canals of communication would 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 145 

be choked up, and, while the water involved all in ruin, the 
Lido would be changed into an island, and the islands which 
now lie behind it be converted into necks and tongues of 
land. To guard against this, it was necessary to protect the 
Lido as far as possible, lest the furious element should capri- 
ciously attack and overthrow what man had already taken 
possession of, and, with a certain end and purpose, given 
shape and use to. 

In extraordinary cases, when the sea rises above measure, 
it is especially necessary to prevent it entering at more than 
two points. Accordingly, the rest of the sluice-gates being 
shut, it is, with all its violence, unable to enter, and in a few 
hours submits to the law of the ebb, and its fury lessens. 

But Venice has nothing to fear : the extreme slowness 
with which the sea-line retires assures to her thousands of 
years yet ; and, by prudently deepening the canals from time 
to time, they will easily maintain their possessions against 
the inroads of the water. 

I only wish they were keeping their streets a little cleaner, 
— a duty which is as necessary as it is easy of performance, 
and which, in fact, becomes of great consequence in the course 
of centuries. Even now, in the principal thoroughfares, it is 
forbidden to throw any thing into the canals : the sweepings 
even of the streets may not be cast into them. No meas- 
ures, however, are taken to prevent the rain, which here falls 
in sudden and violent torrents, from carrying off the dirt, 
which is collected in piles at the corner of every street, and 
washing it into the lagunes, nay, what is still worse, into 
the gutters for carrying off the water, which consequently 
are often so completely stopped up, that the principal squares 
are in danger of being under water. Even in the smaller 
piazza of St. Mark's I have seen the gullies, which are well 
laid down there, as well as in the greater square, choked up, 
and full of water. 

When a rainy day comes, the filth is intolerable : every 
one is cursing and scolding. In ascending and descending 
the bridges, one soils one's mantle and great-coat (Tabarro), 
which is here worn all the year round ; and, as one goes along 
in shoes and silk stockings, he gets splashed, and then scolds ; 
for it is not common mud, but such as adheres and stains, 
that one is- here splashed with. The weather soon becomes 
fine again, and then no one thinks of cleaning the streets. 
How true is the saying, the public is ever complaining that 
it is ill served, and never knows how to set about getting 



146 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

better served. Here, if the sovereign people wished it, it 
might be done forthwith. 

This evening I ascended the Tower of St. Mark's. As I 
had lately seen from its top the lagunes in their glory al 
llood-time, I wished also to see them at low water ; for, in 
order to have a correct idea of the place, it is necessary to 
take in both views. It looks strange to see land all around 
where there had previously been a mirror of waters. The 
islands are no longer islands, merely higher and house- 
crowned spots in one large morass of a gray-greenish color, 
and intersected by beautiful canals. The marshy parts are 
overgrown with aquatic plants, — a circumstance which must 
tend, in time, to raise their level, although the ebb and flow 
are continually shaking and tossing them, and leave no rest 
to the vegetation. 

I now return with my narrative once more to the sea. I 
there saw yesterday the haunts of the sea-snails, the limpets, 
and the crab, and was highly delighted with the sight. What 
a precious glorious object is a living thing ! how wonder- 
fully adapted to its state of existence, how r true, how real 
(seyend) ! What great advantages I now derive from my 
former studies of nature, and how delighted I am witli the 
opportunity of continuing them ! But, as this is a matter 
that admits of being communicated, I will not excite the 
sympathy of my friends by mere exclamations. 

The stone-works which have been built against the inroads 
of the sea consist, first of all, of several steep steps ; then 
comes a slightly inclined plane ; then, again, they rise a step, 
which is once more succeeded by a gently ascending surface ; 
and last of all comes a perpendicular wall with an overhang- 
ing coping over these steps : over these planes the raging- 
sea rises, until, in extraordinary cases, it even dashes over 
the highest wall with its projecting head. 

The sea is followed by its inhabitants, — little periwinkles 
good to eat, monovalve limpets, and whatever else has the 
power of motion, especially by the pungar-crabs. But 
scarcely have these little creatures taken possession of the 
smooth walls, when the sea retires again, swelling and crest- 
ing as it came. At first the crowd know not where jthey 
.-ire. and keep hoping that the briny Hood will soon return; 
but it still keeps away. The sun scorches, and quickly dries 
all up ; and now begins the retreat. It is on these occasions 
that the pungars seek their prey. Nothing more wonderful 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 147 

or comical can be seen than the manoeuvres of these little 
creatures, with their round bodies and two long claws (for 
the other spider-feet are scarcely worth noticing) . On these 
stilted fore-legs, as it were, they stride along, watching the 
limpets ; and, as soon as one moves under its shell on the 
rock, a pungar comes up, and, inserting the point of his claw 
in the tiny interstice between the shell and the rock, turns it 
over, and so manages to swallow the oyster. The limpets, 
on the other hand, proceed cautiously on their way, and by 
suction fasten themselves firmly to the rock}' surface as soon 
as the}' are aware of the proximity of their foe. In such 
cases the pungar deports himself amusingly enough : round 
and round the pulpy animal, who keeps himself safe beneath 
his roof, will he go with singular politeness ; but not succeed- 
ing with all his coaxing, and being unable to overcome its 
powerful muscle, he leaves in despair this intended victim, 
and hastens after another, who may be wandering less cau- 
tiously on his way. 

I never saw a crab succeed in his designs, although I have 
watched for hours the retreat of the little troop as they 
crawled down the two planes and the intermediate steps. 

Venice, Oct. 10, 1786. 
At last I am able to say that I have seen a comedy. Yes- 
terday, at the theatre of St. Luke, was performed " Le Ba- 
ruffe-Chiozotte," which I should interpret the " Frays and 
Feuds of Chiozza." The dramatis personce are principally 
seafaring people, inhabitants of Chiozza, with their wives, 
sisters, and daughters. The usual noisy demonstrations of 
such sort of people in their good or ill luck, their dealings 
one with another, their vehemence, but goodness of heart, 
commonplace remarks and unaffected manners, their naive 
wit and humor, — all this was excellently imitated. The play, 
moreover, is Goldoni's ; and as I had been only the day be- 
fore in the place itself, and as the tones and manners of the 
sailors and people of the seaport still echoed in my ears and 
floated before my eyes, it delighted me very much ; and, al- 
though I did not understand a single allusion, I was, on the 
whole, able to follow the plot pretty well. I will now give 
von the plan of the piece. It opens with the females of Chi- 
ozza sitting, as usual, on the strand before their cabins, 
spinning, mending nets, sewing, or making lace. A youth 
passes by, and notices one of them with a more friendly greet- 
ing than he does the rest. Immediately the joking begins, 



148 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

and observes no bounds. Becoming tarter and tarter, and 
growing ill-tempered, it soon bursts out into reproaches : 
abuse vies with abuse. In the midst of all, one dame, more 
vehement than the rest, bounces out with the truth ; and now 
an endless din of scolding, railing, and screaming. There 
is no lack of more decided outrage, and at last the peace- 
officers are compelled to interfere. 

The second act opens with the court of justice. In the 
absence of the podestd (who, being a noble, could not law- 
fully be brought upon the stage) , the actuarius presides. 
He orders the women to be brought before him one by one. 
This gives rise to an interesting scene. It happens that this 
official personage is himself enamoured of the first of the 
combatants who is brought before him. Only too happy to 
have an opportunity of speaking with her alone, instead of 
hearing what she has to say on the matter in question, he 
makes her a declaration of love. In the midst of it a second 
woman, who is herself in love with the actuary, in a fit of 
jealousy rushes in, and with her the suspicious lover of the 
first damsel, who is followed by all the rest ; and now the 
same demon of confusion riots in the court, as, a little before, 
had set at loggerheads the people of the harbor. In the 
third act the fun gets more and more boisterous, and the 
whole ends with a hasty and poor denotement. The happiest 
thought, however, of the whole piece, is a character who is 
thus drawn : an old sailor, who, owing to the hardships to 
which he had been exposed from his childhood, trembles and 
falters in all his limbs, and especially in his organs of speech, 
is brought on the scene to serve as a foil to this restless, 
screaming, and jabbering crew. Before he can utter a word, 
he has to make a long preparation by a slow twitching of 
his lips and an assistant motion of his hands and arms : at 
last he blurts out what his thoughts are on the matter in 
dispute. But, as he can only manage to do this in very short 
sentences, he acquires thereby a sort of laconic gravity, so 
that all he utters sounds like an adage or maxim ; and in 
this way a happy contrast is afforded to the wild and pas- 
sionate exclamations of the other personages. 

But, even as it was, I never witnessed any thing like the 
noisy delight the people evinced at seeing themselves and 
their mates represented with such truth of nature. It was 
oik' continued laugh, and tumultuous shout of exultation, 
from beginning to end. I must, however, confess that the 
piece was extremely well acted by the players. According to 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 149 

the cast of their several parts, they had adopted among them 
the different tones of voice which usually prevail among the 
inhabitants of the place. The first actress was the universal 
favorite, more so even than she had recently been in an 
heroic dress and a scene of passion. The female players 
generally, but especially this one, imitated in the most pleas- 
ing manner possible the twang, the manners, and other pe- 
culiarities, of the people they represented. Great praise is 
due to the author, who out of nothing has here created the 
most amusing divertissement. However, he never could have 
done it with any other people than his own merry and light- 
hearted countrymen. The farce is written throughout with 
a practised hand. 

Of Sacchi's company, for which Gozzi wrote (but which 
by the by is now broken up) , I saw Smeraldina, a short, 
plump figure, full of life, tact, and good humor. With her 
I saw Brighella, a slight well-made man and an excellent 
actor, especially in pantomime. These masks, which we 
scarcely know, except in the form of mummings, and which 
to our minds possess neither life nor meaning, succeed here 
only too well as the creation of the national taste. Here the 
most distinguished characters, persons of eveiy age and 
condition, think nothing of dressing themselves out in the 
strangest costumes ; and as, for the greater part of the year, 
they are accustomed to wander about in masks, they feel no 
surprise at seeing the black visors on the stage also. 

Venice, Oct. 11, 1780. 
Since solitude in the midst of a great crowd of human 
beings is, after all, not possible, I have taken up with an old 
Frenchman, who knows nothing of Italian, and suspects that 
he is cheated on all hands, and taken advantage of, and 
who, notwithstanding plenty of letters of recommendation, 
does not make his way with the good people here. A man 
of rank, who is well bred, but whose mind cannot go beyond 
himself and his own immediate circle. He is perhaps full 
fifty, and has at home a boy seven years old, of whom he is 
always anxious to get news. He is travelling through Italy 
for pleasure, but rapidly, in order to be able to say that he 
has seen it, but is willing to learn whatever is possible as he 
hurries along. I have shown him some civilities, and given 
him information about many matters. While I was speaking 
to him about Venice, he asked me how long I had been here, 
and when he heard that this was my first visit, and that I 



150 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

had only been here fourteen days, he replied, " 12 parait que 
vousn'avez pas perdu votre -temps." This is the first testi- 
monium of my good behavior that I can furnish you. He 
has been here a week, and leaves to-morrow. It was highly 
delicious to me to meet in a strange land with such a regular 
Versailles man. He is now about to quit me. It caused 
me some surprise to think that any one could ever travel in 
this temper, without a thought for any thing beyond himself ; 
and yet he is, in his way, a polished, sensible, and well-con- 
ducted person. 

Venice, Oct. 12, 1786. 

Yesterday, at St. Luke's, a new piece was acted, u Ulngli- 
cismo in Italia " (' l The English in Italy " ) . As there are many 
Englishmen living in Italy, it is not unnatural that their ways 
and habits should excite notice ; and I expected to learn from 
this piece what the Italians thought of their rich and welcome 
visitors. But it was a total failure. There were, of course 
(as is always the case here) , some clever scenes between buf- 
foons ; but the rest was cast altogether in too grave and heavy 
a mould, and yet not a trace of the English good sense ; 
plenty of the ordinary Italian commonplaces of morality, and 
those, too, upon the most common topics. 

And it did not take : indeed, it was on the very point of 
being hissed off the stage. The actors felt themselves out 
of their element, not on the strand of Chiozza. As this was 
the last piece that I saw here, my enthusiasm for these 
national representations did not seem likely to be increased 
by this piece of foil} 7 . 

As I have at last gone through my journal, and entered 
some occasional remarks from my tablets, my proceedings 
are now enrolled, and left to the sentence of my friends. 
There is, I am conscious, very much in these leaves which I 
might qualify, enlarge upon, and improve. Let, however, 
what is written stand as the memorial of first impressions, 
which, if not always correct, will nevertheless be ever dear 
and precious to me. Oh that I could but transmit to my 
friends a breath merely of this light existence ! Verily, to the 
Italian, Cw ultramontane" is a very vague idea; and, before 
my mind even, "beyond the Alps" rises very obscurely, 
although from out of their mists friendly forms are beckon- 
ing to me. It is the climate only that seduces me to prefer 
a while these lands to those ; for birth and habit forge strong 
fetters. Here, however, I could not live, nor, indeed, in any 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 151 

place where I had nothing to occupy my mind ; but at present 
novelty furnishes me here with endless occupation. Archi- 
tecture rises, like an ancient spirit from the tombs, and bids 
me study its laws, just as people study the rules of a dead 
language, not in order to practise or to take a living joy in 
them, but only in order to enable myself, in the quiet depths 
of my own mind, to do honor to her existence in bygone ages, 
and her forever departed glory. As Palladio everywhere 
refers one to Vitruvius, I have bought Galiani's edition ; 
but this folio suffers in my portmanteau as much as my brain 
does in the study of it. Palladio, by his words and works, 
by his method and way, both of thinking and of executing, 
has brought Vitruvius home to me, and interpreted him far 
better than the Italian translator ever can. Vitruvius him- 
self is no easy reading: his book is obscurely written, and 
requires a critical study. Notwithstanding, I have read it 
through cursorily, and it has left on my mind many a glori- 
ous impression. To express my meaning better, I read it 
like a breviary, more out of devotion than for instruction. 
Already the days begin to draw in, and allow more time for 
reading and writing. 

God be praised ! Whatever from my youth up appeared to 
me of worth is beginning once more to be dear to me. How 
happy do I feel that I can again venture to approach the 
ancient authors ! For now I may tell it, and confess at 
once my disease and my folly. For many a long year I could 
not bear to look at a Latin author, or to cast my eye upon 
any thing that might serve to awaken in my mind the thoughts 
of Italy. If by accident I did so, I suffered the most hor- 
rible tortures of mind. It was a frequent joke of Herder's, 
at my expense, that I had learned all my Latin from Spinoza ; 
for lie had noticed that this was the only Latin work I ever 
read. But he was not aware how carefully I was obliged to 
keep myself from the ancients ; how even these abstruse 
generalities were but cursorily read by me, and even then 
not without pain. At last matters came to that pitch that 
even the perusal of AVieland's translation of the " Satires" 
made me utterly wretched. I had barely read two when I 
was already beside myself. 

Had I not made the resolve which I am now carrying into 
effect, I should have been altogether lost, to such a degree 
of intensity had the desire grown to see these objects with 
my own eyes. Historical acquaintance with them did me no 
good. The things stood only a hand's-breadth away from 



152 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

mo ; but still they were separated from me by an impene- 
trable wall. And in fact, at the present moment I some- 
how feel as if this were not the first time that I had seen 
these things, but as if I were paying a second visit to them. 
Although I have been but a short time in Venice, I have 
adapted myself pretty well to the ways of the place, and 
feel confident that I shall carry away with me a clear and 
true, though incomplete, idea of it. 

Venice, Oct. 14, 1786. 

Two o'clock, morning. 

In the last moments of my stay here ; for I am to start 
almost immediately, with the packet-boat, for Ferrara. I 
quit Venice without reluctance ; for, to stay here longer with 
any satisfaction and profit to m} T self, I must take other steps, 
which would carry me beyond my present plan. Besides, 
everybody is now leaving this city, and making for the beau- 
tiful gardens and seats on the Terra Firma. I, however, go 
away well loaded, and shall carry along with me its rich, 
rare, and unique image. 



FROM FERRARA TO ROME. 

Oct. 10, 1786, early in the morning. 
And on board the packet. 

My travelling companions, male and female alike, are all 
still fast asleep in their berths. For my part, I have passed 
the two nights on deck, wrapped up in my cloak. It was 
only towards morning that I felt it getting cold. I am now 
actually in latitude forty-five, and yet go on repeating my 
old song, — I would gladly leave all to the inhabitants of the 
land, if only, after the fashion of Dido. 1 could enclose 
enough of the heavens to surround our dwellings with. It 
would then be quite another state of existence. The voyage 
i:i this glorious weather has been most delightful, the views 
and prospects simple, but agreeable. The Po. with its fer- 
tilizing stream. Hows here through wide plains. Nothing, 
however, is to be seen but its banks covered with trees or 
bushes: you catch no distant view. On this river, as on 
the Adige, are silly water-works, which are as rude and ill- 
tor.s.tructecl as those on the Saal. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 153 

Ferrara, Oct. If), 1786. 

At night. 

Although I only arrived here early this morning (by seven 
o'clock, German time), I am thinking of setting off again 
to-morrow morning. For the first time since I left home, a 
feeling of dissatisfaction has fallen upon me in this great 
and beautiful, but flat and depopulated city. These streets, 
now so desolate, were, however, once kept in animation by a 
brilliant court. Here dwelt Ariosto discontented, and Tasso 
unhappy ; and so we fancy we gain edification by visiting 
such scenes. Ariosto's monument contains much marble, 
ill arranged : for Tasso' s prison they show a wood-house or 
coal-house, where, most assuredly, he never was kept. More- 
over, the people pretend to know scarcely any thing you may 
ask about. But at last, for "something to drink " they man- 
age to remember. All this brings to my mind Luther's ink- 
spots, which the housekeeper freshens up from time to time. 
Most travellers, however, are little better than our Hand- 
werksburschen, or strolling journeymen, and content them- 
selves with such palpable signs. For my part, I grew quite 
sulky, and took little interest, even in a beautiful institute 
and academy which a cardinal, a native of Ferrara, founded 
and endowed. However, some ancient monuments in the 
Ducal Palace served to revive me a little ; and I was put in 
perfect good humor by a beautiful conception of a painter, — 
John the Baptist before Herod and Ilerodias. The prophet, 
in his well-known dress of the wilderness, is pointing indig- 
nantly at Ilerodias. Quite unmoved, she looks at the prince, 
who is sitting by her side, while the latter regards the 
prophet with a calm but cunning look. A white, middle-sized 
greyhound stands before the king, while from beneath the 
robe of Ilerodias a small Italian one is peeping, both barking 
at the prophet. To my mind, this is a most happy thought. 

Cento, Oct. 17, 178G. 
In a better temper than yesterday I write you to-day 
from Guercino's native city. It is, however, quite a different 
place, — a hospitable, well-built little town of nearly live 
thousand inhabitants, flourishing, full of life, cleanly, and 
situated in a well-cultivated plain, which stretches farther 
than the eye can reach. According to my usual custom, I 
ascended the tower. A sea of poplars, between which, 
and near at hand, one catches glimpses of little country- 
houses, each surrounded by its fields. A rich soil and a 



154 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

beautiful climate. Tt was an autumn evening, such as we 
seldom have to thank even summer for. The .sky. which 
has been veiled all day, has cleared up, the clouds rolling 
off north and south towards the mountains, and I hope to- 
morrow will be a bright day. 

Here I first saw the Apennines, which I am approaching. 
The winter in this region lasts only through December and 
January. April is rainy. The rest of the year the weather 
is beautiful, according to the nature of the season. Inces- 
sant rain is unknown. September here, to tell you the truth, 
was finer and warmer than August with you. The Apen- 
nines in the south have received a warm greeting from me, 
for I have now had enough of the plain. To-morrow I shall 
be writing at the foot of them. 

Guercino loved his native town : indeed, the Italians almost 
universally cherish and maintain this sort of local patriot- 
ism ; and it is to this beautiful feeling that Italy owes so 
man}' of its valuable institutions and its multitude of local 
sanctuaries. Under the management of this master, an 
academy of painting was formed here. He left behind him 
many paintings, of which his townsmen are still very proud, 
and which, indeed, fully justify their pride. 

Guercino is here a sacred name, and that, too, in the 
mouths of children as well as of the old. 

Most charmed was I with his picture representing the 
risen Lord appearing to his mother. Kneeling before him, 
she looks upon him with indescribable affection. Her left 
hand is touching his body just under the confounded wound, 
which mars the whole picture. His hand lies upon her neck ; 
and, in order the better to gaze upon her, his body is slightly 
bent back. This oives to his figure a somewhat strange, 
not to say forced, appearance. And yet, for all that, it is 
infinitely beautiful. The calm and sad look with which 
he contemplates her is unique, and seems to convey the 
impression that before his noble soul there still floats a 
remembrance of his own sufferings and of hers, which the 
resurrection had not at once dispelled. 

Strange has engraved the picture. I wish that my friends 
could see even his copy of it. 

After it a Madonna won my admiration. The child wants 
the breast: she modestly shrinks from exposing her bosom. 
Natural, noble, exquisite, and beautiful. 

Further, a Mary, who is guiding the arm of the infant 
Christ, standing before her with his face towards the people, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 155 

in order that with uplifted fingers he may bestow his bless- 
ings upon them. Judged by the spirit of Roman-Catholic 
mythology, this is a very happy idea, which has often been 
repeated. 

Guereino is an intrinsically bold, masculine, sensible 
painter, without roughness. On the contrary, his pieces 
possess a certain tender moral grace, a reposeful freedom 
and grandeur, but, with all that, a certain mannerism, so that, 
when the eye once has grown accustomed to it, it is impossi- 
ble to mistake a piece of his hand. The lightness, clean- 
ness, and finish of his touch, are perfectly astonishing. For 
his draperies he is particularly fond of a beautiful brownish- 
red blend of colors. These harmonize very well with the 
blue which he is fond of combining with them. 

The subjects of the other paintings are more or less un- 
happily chosen. The good artist has strained all his powers, 
but his invention and execution alike are thrown away and 
wasted. However, I derived both entertainment and profit 
from the view of this cycle of art, although such a hasty and 
rapid glance as I could alone bestow upon them affords but 
little of either gratification or instruction. 



»•■ 



Boloona, Oct. 18, 1786. 
Night. 

Yesterday I started very early, before daybreak, from 
Cento, and arrived here in pretty good time. A brisk and 
well-educated cicerone, having learned that I did not intend 
to make a long stay here, hurried me through all the streets, 
and into so many palaces and churches, that I had scarcely 
time to set down in my note-book the names of them ; and I 
hardly know if hereafter, when I shall look again at these 
scrawls, I shall be able to call to mind all the particulars. I 
will now, however, mention a couple or so of objects which 
stand out bright and clear enough, as they afforded me a real 
gratification at the time. 

First of all, the Cecilia of Raphael. It was exactly what I 
had been told of it, but now I saw it with my own eyes. He 
has invariably accomplished that which others wished in vain 
to accomplish, and I would at present say no more of it than 
that it is by him. Five saints, side by side ; not one of them 
has any tiling in common with us: however, their existence 
stands so perfectly real, that one would wish for the picture 
to last through eternity, even though for himself he could be 
content to be annihilated. But in order to understand Ra- 



156 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

phael aright, and to form a just appreciation of him, and not 
to praise him as a god, or as Melchisedec, " without descent " 
or pedigree, it is necessary to study his masters and his 
predecessors. These, too, had a standing on the firm soil of 
truth. Diligently, not to say anxiously, they had laid the 
foundation, and vied with each other in raising, step by step. 
the pyramid aloft, until at last, profiting by all their labors, 
and enlightened by a heavenly genius, Raphael set the last 
stone on the summit, above which, or even at which, no one 
else can ever stand. 

Our interest in the histoiy of art becomes peculiarly lively 
when we consider the works of the old masters. Francesco 
Francia is a very respectable artist ; Pietro Perugino, so 
bold a man, that one might almost call him a noble German 
fellow. Oh that fate had carried Albert Dtirer farther into 
Italy ! In Munich I saw a couple of pieces by him of incredi- 
ble grandeur. Poor man ! how he mistook his own worth in 
Venice, and made an agreement with the priests, on which 
he lost weeks and months ! See him, in his journe}' through 
the Netherlands, exchanging his noble works of art for 
parrots, and, in order to save his douceur, drawing the por- 
traits of the domestics, who bring him — a plate of fruit. 
To me the history of such a poor fool of an artist is infinitely 
touching. 

Towards evening I got out of this ancient, venerable, and 
learned city, and extricated myself from its crowds, who, pro- 
tected from the sun and weather by the arched bowers which 
are to be seen in almost every street, walk about, gape about, 
or buy and sell, and transact whatever business they may 
have. I ascended the tower, and enjoyed the pure air. The 
view is glorious. To the north we see the hills of Padua ; 
beyond them the Swiss, Tyrolese, and Friulian Alps, — in 
short, the whole northern chain, which at the time was en- 
veloped in mist. Westward there stretched a boundless 
horizon, above which the towers of Modena alone stood out. 
Towards the east a similar plain, reaching to the shores of 
the Adriatic, whose waters might be discerned in the setting 
sun. Towards the south, the first hills of the Apennines, 
which, like the Yicentine Hills, are planted up to their sum- 
mits, or covered with churches, palaces, and summer-houses. 
The sky was perfectly clear, not a cloud to be seen, only on 
the horizon a kind of haze. The keeper of the tower assured 
me, that, for six years, this mist had never left the distance. 
Otherwise, by the help of a telescope, you might easily dis- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 157 

cern the hills of Vicenza, with their houses and chapels, but 
now very rarely, even on the brightest da} T s. And this mist 
lay chiefly on the northern chain, and makes our beloved 
fatherland a regular Cimmeria. In proof of the salubrity of 
the situation, and pure atmosphere of the city, he called my 
notice to the fact that the roofs of the houses looked quite 
fresh, and that not a single tile was attacked by damp or 
moss. It must be confessed that the tiles look quite clean, 
and beautiful enough : but the good quality of the brick- 
earth may have something to do with this ; at least we know, 
that, in ancient times, excellent tiles were made in these 
parts. 

The Leaning Tower has a frightful look, and yet it is "most 
probable that it was built so by design. The following seems 
to me the explanation of this absurdity. In the disturbed 
times of the city, every large edifice was a fortress, and every 
powerful family had its tower. By and by the possession 
of such a building became a mark of splendor and distinc- 
tion ; and as, at last, a perpendicular tower was a common 
and every-day thing, an oblique one was built. Both archi- 
tect and owner have obtained their object : the multitude of 
slender, upright towers are just looked at, and all hurry to 
see the leaning one. Afterwards I ascended it. The bricks 
are all arranged horizontally. With clamps and good cement 
one may build any mad whim. 

Bologna, Oct. 19, 1786. 
Evening. 

I have spent this day to the best advantage I could in vis- 
iting and revisiting. But it is with art as with the world : the 
more we study it, the larger we find it. In this heaven, new 
stars are constantly appearing which I cannot count, and 
which sadly puzzle me, — the Carracci, a Guido, a Domini- 
chino, who shone forth in a later and happier period of art, 
but whom truly to enjoy requires both knowledge and judg- 
ment which I do not possess, and which cannot be acquired 
in a hurry. A great obstacle to our taking a pure delight in 
their pictures, and to an immediate understanding of their 
merits, are the absurd subjects of most of them. To admire 
or to be charmed witli them one must be a madman. 

It is as though the sons of God had wedded with the 
daughters of men, and out of such a union many a monster 
had sprung into existence. No sooner are you attracted by 
the gusto of a Guido and his pencil, by which nothing but the 



158 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

most excellent objects the eye sees are worthy to be painted, 
but yon at once withdraw your e} T es from a subject so abomi- 
nably stupid that the world has no term of contempt suffi- 
cient to express its meanness ; and so it is throughout. It 
is ever anatomy, an execution, a flaying scene ; always some 
suffering, never an action of the hero, never an interest in 
the scene before you ; always something for the fancy, some 
excitement accruing from without. Nothing but deeds of 
horror or convulsive sufferings, malefactors or fanatics, 
alongside of whom the artist, in order to save his art, invari- 
ably slips in a naked boy or a pretty damsel, as a spectator, 
in every case treating his spiritual heroes as little better than 
lay-figures (Gliedermanner) on which to hang some beautiful 
mantle with its folds. In all there is nothing that suggests 
a human notion. Scarcely one subject in ten that ever ought 
to have been painted, and that one the painter has chosen to 
view from any but the right point of view. 

Guido's great picture in the Church of the Mendicants is 
all that painting can do, but, at the same time, all that ab- 
surdity could task an artist with. It is a votive piece. I 
can well believe that the whole consistory praised it, and 
also that they devised it. The two angels, who were fit to 
console a Psyche in her misery, must here . . . 

The St. Proclus is a beautiful figure, but the others — 
bishops and popes ! Below are heavenly children playing 
with attributes. The painter, who had no choice left him, 
labored to help himself as best he could. He exerted him- 
self merely to show that he was not the barbarian. Two 
naked figures by Guido, a St. John in the Wilderness, a 
Sebastian — how exquisitely painted, and what do the}' say? 
The one is gaping and the other wriggling. 

Were I to contemplate history in my present ill humor, I 
should say, faith revived art, but superstition immediately 
made itself master of it, and ground it to the dust. 

After dinner, seeming somewhat of a milder temper, and 
less arrogantly disposed than in the morning, I entered the 
following remarks in my note-book. In the Palace of the 
Tanari there is a famous picture by Guido, — the Virgin suc- 
kling the infant Saviour, of a size rather larger than life, 
the head as if a god had painted it. Indescribable is the 
expression with which she gazes upon the suckling infant. 
To me it seems a calm, profound resignation, as if she were 
nourishing, not the child of her joy and love, but a supposi- 
titious, heavenly changeling, and goes on suckling it because 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 159 

now she cannot do otherwise, although in deep humility she 
wonders how she ever came to do it. The rest of the canvas 
is filled up with a mass of drapery which connoisseurs highly 
prize. For my part, I know not what to make of it. The 
colors, too, are somewhat dim. The room and the day were 
none of the brightest. 

Notwithstanding the confusion in w 7 hieh I find nryself, I 
yet feel that experience, knowledge, and taste already come 
to my aid in these mazes. Thus I was greatly won by a 
Circumcision by Guercino, for I have begun to know and 
to understand the man. I can now pardon the intolerable 
subject, and delight in the masterly execution. Let him 
paint whatever can be thought of : every thing will be praise- 
worthy, and as highly finished as if it were enamel. 

And thus it happened with me, as with Balaam, the over- 
ruled prophet, who blessed where he thought to curse. And 
I fear this would be the case still oftener, were I to stay here 
much longer. 

And then, again, if one happens to meet with a picture 
after Raphael, or what may with at least some probability 
be ascribed to him, one is soon perfect!} 7 cured, and in good 
temper again. I fell in yesterday with a St. Agatha, a rare 
picture, though not throughout in good keeping. The artist 
has given to her the mien of a young maiden full of health 
and self-possession, but yet without rusticity or coldness. I 
have stamped on my mind both her form and look, and shall 
mentally read before her my tc Iphigenia," and shall not 
allow my heroine to express a sentiment which the saint 
herself might not give utterance to. 

And now, when I think again of this sweet burden which 
I carry with me throughout my wanderings, I cannot conceal 
the fact, that, besides the great objects of nature and art 
which I have yet to work my way through, a wonderful train 
of poetical images keeps rising before me, and unsettling me. 
From Cento to this place I have been wishing to continue my 
labors on the ww Jphigenia ; " but what has happened? Inspi- 
ration has brought before my mind the plan of an " Iphige- 
nia at Delphi," and I must work it out. I will here set down 
the argument as briefly as possible. 

Electra, confidently hoping that Orestes will bring to 
Delphi the; image of the Taurian Diana, makes her appear- 
ance in the Temple of Apollo, and, as a final sin-offering, 
dedicates to the god the axe which has perpetrated so many 
horrors in the house of Pelops. Unhappily, she is at this 



1G0 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

moment joined by a Greek, who recounts to her how, having 
accompanied Pylades and Orestes to Tauris, he there saw 
the two friends led to execution, but had himself luckily 
made his escape. At this news, the passionate Elect ra is 
unable to restrain herself, and knows not whether to vent 
her rage against the gods, or against men. 

In the mean time, Iphigenia, Orestes, and Pilades have 
arrived at Delphi. The heavenly calmness of Iphigenia 
contrasts remarkably with the earthly vehemence of Electra, 
as the two sisters meet without knowing each other. The 
fugitive Greek gains sight of Iphigenia, and, recognizing in 
her the priestess who was to have sacrificed the two friends, 
makes it known to Electra. The latter, snatching the axe 
from the altar, is on the point of killing Iphigenia, when a 
happy incident averts this last fearful calamit}' from the two 
sisters. This situation, if only I can succeed in working it 
out well, will probably furnish a scene unequalled for gran- 
deur or pathos by any that has yet been produced on the 
stas^e. But where is man to get time and hands for such 
a work, even if the spirit be willing? 

As I feel myself at present somewhat oppressed with such 
a flood of thoughts of the good and desirable, I cannot help 
reminding my friends of a dream which I had about a year 
ago, and which appeared to me to be highly significant. I 
dreamed, forsooth, that I had been sailing about in a little 
boat, and had landed on a fertile and richly cultivated island, 
of which I had a consciousness that it bred the most beau- 
tiful pheasants in the world. I bargained, I thought, with 
the people of the island for some of these birds ; and they 
killed and brought them to me in great numbers. They were 
pheasants, indeed ; but as, in dreams, all things are generally 
changed and modified, they seemed to have long, richly col- 
ored tails, like the loveliest birds-of -paradise, and with eves 
like those of the peacock. Bringing them to me by scores, 
they arranged them in the boat so skilfully, with the heads 
inwards, the long, variegated feathers of the tail hanging 
outwards, as to form in the bright sunshine the most glori- 
ous pile conceivable, and so large as scarcely to leave room 
enough in the bow and the stern for the rower and the steers- 
man. As with this load the boat nfade its way through the 
tranquil waters, I named to myself the friends among whom 
I should like to distribute those variegated treasures. At 
last* arriving in a spacious harbor, I was almost lost among 
great and many-masted vessels, as I mounted deck after 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 1G1 

deck in order to discover a place where I might safely run 
my little boat ashore. 

Such dreamy visions have a charm ; inasmuch as, springing 
from our mental state, they possess more or less of analogy 
with the rest of our lives and fortunes. 

But now I have also been to the famed scientific building 
called the Institution, or Gli Studj. The edifice is large ; 
and the inner court especially has a very imposing appear- 
ance, although not of the best style of architecture. In the 
staircases and corridors there was no want of stuccos and 
frescos. They are all appropriate and suitable ; and the 
numerous objects of beauty, which, well worth seeing, are 
here collected together, justly command our admiration. 
For all that, however, a German accustomed to a more lib- 
eral course of study than is here pursued will not be alto- 
gether content with it. 

Here, again, a former thought occurred to me ; and I could 
not but reflect on the pertinacity, which in spite of time, 
which changes all things, man shows in adhering to the old 
shapes of his public buildings, even long after they have 
been applied to new purposes. Our churches still retain the 
form of the basilica, although, probably, the plan of the tem- 
ple would better suit our worship. In Italy the courts of 
justice are as spacious and lofty as the means of a commu- 
nity are able to make them. One can almost fancy himself 
to be in the open air, where justice used once to be adminis- 
tered. And do we not build our great theatres, with their 
offices under a roof, exactly similar to those of the first the- 
atrical booths of a fair, which were hurriedly put together of 
planks? The vast multitude of those in whom, about the 
time of the Reformation, a thirst for knowledge was awak- 
ened, obliged the scholars at our universities to take shelter 
as they could in the burghers' houses; and it was very long 
before any colleges for pupils ( Waisenhciuser) were built, 
thereby facilitating for poor youths the acquirement of the 
necessary education for the world. 

Bologna, Oct. 20, 1780. 
Evening. 

The whole of this bright and beautiful day I have spent 
in the open air. I scarcely ever come near a mountain, but 
my interest in rocks and stones again revives. I feel as did 
Antieus of old, who found himself endued with new strength 



L62 LETTERS FROM [TALY. 

as often as he was brought into fresh contact with his mother- 
earth. I rode towards Palermo, where is found the so-called 
Bolognese sulphate of barvtes, out of which are made the 
little cakes, which, being calcined, shine in the dark, if pre- 
viously they have been exposed to the light, and which the 
people here call, shortly and expressively, kt phosphori." 

On the road, after leaving behind me a hilly track of argil- 
laceous sandstone, I came upon whole rocks of selenite, 
quite visible on the surface. Near a brick-kiln a cascade 
precipitates its waters, into which many smaller ones also 
empty themselves. At first sight the traveller might suppose 
he saw before him a loamy hill, which had been worn away 
b} T the rain : on closer examination, I discovered its true na- 
ture to be as follows : the solid rock of which this part of the 
line of hills consists is schistous, bituminous clay of very fine 
strata, and alternating with gypsum. The schistous stone is 
so intimately blended with pyrites, that, exposed to the air 
and moisture, it wholly changes its nature. It swells, the 
strata gradually disappear, and there is formed a kind of 
potter's clay, crumbling, shelly, and glittering on the surface 
like stone-coal. It is only by examining large pieces of both 
(I myself broke several, and observed the forms of both), 
that it is possible to convince one's self of the transition and 
change. At the same time we observed the shelly strata 
studded with white points, and occasionally, also, variegated 
with yellow particles. In this way, by degrees, the whole 
surface crumbles away ; and the hill looks like a mass of 
weatherworn pyrites on a large scale. Among the lamina 
some are harder, of a green and red color. Pyrites I very 
often found disseminated in the rock. 

I now passed along the channels which the last violent 
gullies of rain had worn in the crumbling rock, and, to my 
great delight, found many specimens of the desired barvtes. 
mostly of an imperfect egg-shape, peeping out in several 
places of the friable stone, some tolerably pure, and some 
slightly mingled with the clay in which they were embedded. 
That they have not been carried hither by external agency, 
any one may convince himself at the first glance. Whether 
they were contemporaneous with the schistous clay, or 
whether they first arose from the swelling and dissolving of 
the latter, is matter calling for further inquiry. Of the 
specimens I found, the larger and smaller approximated to 
an imperfect egg-shape : the smallest might be said to verge 
upon irregular crystalline forms. The heaviest of the pieces 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 163 

I brought away weighed seventeen loth (eight ounces and a 
half). Loose in the same clay, I also found perfect crys- 
tals of gypsum. Mineralogists will be able to point out 
further peculiarities in the specimens I bring with me. And 
I was now again loaded with stones ! I have packed up at 
least half a quarter of a hundred-weight. 

Oct. 20, 1786. In the night. 

How much I should have still to say, were I to attempt to 

confess to you all that has this beautiful day passed through 

my mind ! But my wishes are more powerful than my 

thoughts. I feel myself hurried irresistibly forward. It is 

only with an effort that I can collect myself sufficiently to 

attend to what is before me. And it seems as if Heaven 

heard my secret prayer. Word has just been brought me, 

that there is a vetturino goiug straight to Rome ; and so, the 

day after to-morrow, I shall set out direct for that city. I 

must, therefore, to-day and to-morrow, look after my affairs, 

make all my little arrangements, and despatch my many 

commissions. 

Lugano on the Apennines, 
Oct. 21,1786. Evening. 

Whether I to-day was driven from Bologna l:ry myself, or 
whether I have been ejected from it, I cannot sa}\ Suffice 
it, that I eagerly availed myself of an earlier opportunity of 
quitting it. And so here I am at a wretched inn, in com- 
pany with an officer of the Pope's army, who is going to 
Perugia, where he was born. In order to say something, as 
I seated myself b} T his side in the two-wheeled carriage, I 
paid him the compliment of remarking, that, as a German 
accustomed to associate with soldiers, I found it very agreea- 
ble to have to travel with an officer of the Pope. " Pray do 
not," he replied, " be offended at what I am about to answer. 
It is all very well for you to be fond of the military profes- 
sion ; for in Germany, as I have heard, every thing is 
military. But with regard to myself, although our service is 
light enough, — so that in Bologna, where 1 am in garrison, I 
can do just as I like, — still I heartily wish 1 were rid of this 
jacket, and had the disposal of my father's little property. 
But I am a younger son, and so must be content." 

Oct. 22, 1786. Evening. 

Here at Giredo, which also is a little paltry place on the 

Apennines, I feel quite happy, knowing that I am advancing 



164 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

towards the gratification of my dearest wishes. To-day we 
were joined by a riding party, — a gentleman and a lady, 
an Englishman and a soi-disant. Their horses are beautiful ; 
but they ride unattended by any servants, and the gentle- 
man, as it appears, acts the part both of groom and valet-de- 
chambre. Everywhere they find something to complain of. 
To listen to them is like reading a few pages out of Archen- 
holz's book. 

To me the Apennines are a most remarkable portion of 
the world. The great plains of the basin of the Po are fol- 
lowed by a hilly tract which rises out of the bottom, in 
order, after running between the two seas, to form the 
southern extremit} 7 of the continent. If the hills had been 
not quite so steep and high above the level of the sea, and 
had not their directions crossed and recrossed each other as 
they do, the ebb and flow of the tides in primeval times 
might have exercised a greater and wider influence on them, 
and might have washed over and formed extensive plains ; in 
which case this would have been one of the most beautiful 
regions of this glorious clime, — somewhat higher than the 
rest of it. As it is, however, it is a strong net of mountain- 
ridges, interlacing each other in all directions. One often is 
puzzled to know whither the waters will find their vent. 1 f 
the valleys were better filled np, and the bottoms flatter and 
more irrigated, the land might be compared to Bohemia, 
only that the mountains have in every respect a different 
character. However, it must not for one moment be 
thought of as a mountainous waste, but as a highly culti- 
vated though hilly district. The chestnut grows very line 
here ; the wheat excellent, and that of this year's sowing is 
already of a beautiful green. Along the roads are planted 
evergreen oaks with their small leaves ; but around the 
churches and chapels, the slim cj'press. 

Peruc.ia, Oct. 25, 1786. 
Evening. 

For two evenings I have not been writing. The inns on 
the road were so wretchedly bad, that it was quite useless to 
think of bringing out a sheet of paper. Moreover, 1 begin 
to be a little puzzled to find any thing ; for, since quitting 
Venice, the travelling-bag has got more and more into con- 
fusion. 

Early in the morning (at twenty-three o'clock, or about 
ten of our reckoning) we left the region of the Apennines, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 165 

and saw Florence in an extensive valley, which is highly 
cultivated, and sprinkled over with villas and houses without 
end. 

I ran rapidly over the city, the cathedral, the baptistery. 
Here, again, a perfectly new and unknown world opened upon 
me, on which, however, I will not further dwell. The gar- 
dens of the Botoli are most delightfully situated. I hastened 
out of them as fast as I had entered them. 

In the city we see the proof of the prosperity of the gen- 
erations who built it. The conviction is at once forced upon 
us. that they must have enjoyed a long succession of wise 
rulers. But, above all, one is struck with the beaut}' and 
grandeur which distinguish all the public works and roads 
and bridges in Tuscany. Every thing here is at once sub- 
stantial and clean. Use and profit, not less than elegance, are 
alike kept in view : everywhere we discern traces of the care 
which is taken to preserve them. The cities of the Papal 
States, on the contrary, only seem to stand because the earth 
is unwilling to swallow them up. 

The sort of country that I lately remarked the region of 
the Apennines might have been, is what Tuscany really is. 
As it lies so much lower, the ancient sea was able to do 
its duty properly, and has thrown up here deep beds of 
excellent marl. It is a light yellow hue, and .easily worked. 
Tl^ey plough deep, retaining, however, most exactly the 
ancient manner. Their ploughs have no wheels, and the 
share is not movable. Bowed down behind his oxen, 
the peasant pushes it down into the earth, and turns up 
the soil. They plough over a field as many as five times, 
and use but little dung, which they scatter with the hands. 
After this, they sow the corn. Then they plough together 
two of the smaller ridges into one, and so form deep trenches, 
of such a nature that the rain-water easily runs off the lands 
into them. When the corn is grown up on the ridges, they 
can also pass along these trenches in order to weed it. This 
way of tilling is a very sensible one wherever there is a fear 
of over-moisture ; but why it is practised on these rich open 
plains I cannot understand. This remark I just made at 
Arezzo, where a glorious plain expands itself. It is impos- 
sible to find cleaner fields anywhere. Not even a Lump of 
earth is to be seen : all is as fine as if it had been sifted. 
Wheat thrives here most luxuriantly, and the soil seems to 
possess all the qualities required by its nature. Every 
second year, beans are planted for the horses, who in this 



166 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

country get no oats. Lupines are also much cultivated, which 
at this season are beautifully green, being ripe in March. 
The flax, too, is up. It stands the winter, and is rendered 
more durable by frost. 

The olive-trees are strange plants. They look very much 
like willows : like them, also, they lose the heart of the wood, 
and the bark splits. But still they have a greater appear- 
ance of durability ; and one sees from the wood, of which 
the grain is extremely line, that it is a slow grower. The 
foliage, too, resembles that of the willow, only the leaves on 
the branches are thinner. All the hills around Florence are 
covered with olive-trees and vines, between which grain is 
sown ; so that every spot of ground may be made profitable. 
Near Arezzo, and farther on, the fields are left more free. I 
observed that they take little care to eradicate the ivy, which 
is so injurious to the olive and the vine, although it would be 
so easy to destroy it. There is not a meadow to be seen. 
It is said that the Indian corn exhausts the soil. Since it has 
been introduced, agriculture has suffered in its other crops. 
I can well believe it with their scanty manuring. 

Yesterday I took leave of my captain, with a promise of 
visiting him at Bologna on my return. He is a true repre- 
sentative of the majority of his countrymen. Here, however, 
I would record a peculiarity which personalty distinguished 
him. As I often sat quiet, and lost in thought, he once ex- 
claimed, tc Che pensa? non deve mat pensar Vuomo, pen- 
sando s'invecchia ; " which, being interpreted, is as much as 
to say, " What are you thinking about? A man ought never 
to think. Thinking makes one old." And now for another 
apothegm of his: "Non deve fer mar si Vuomo in una so!<i 
cosa,perche allora divien matto ; bisogna aver mille cose, una 
confusione nella testa;" in plain English, "A man ought 
not to rivet his thoughts exclusively on any one thing : other- 
wise he is sure to go mad. He ought to have in his head a 
thousand things, a regular medley." 

Certainly the good man could not know that the very thing 
which made me so thoughtful was my having my head mazed 
by a regular confusion of things, old and new. The follow- 
ing anecdote will serve to elucidate still more clearly the 
mental character of an Italian of this class. Having soon 
discovered that I was a Protestant, he observed, after some 
circumlocution, that he hoped I would allow him to ask me 
a few questions ; for he had heard such strange things about 
us Protestants, that he wished to know for a certainty what 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 167 

to think of us. "May you," he said, "live with a pretty 
girl without being married to her? do your priests allow you 
to do so? " To this I replied, that " our priests are prudent 
folk, who take no notice of such trifles. No doubt, if we were 
to consult them upon such a matter, they would not permit it. ' ' 
— "Are you, then, not obliged to ask them?" he exclaimed. 
" Happy fellows ! as they do not confess you, the}' of course 
do not find it out." Hereupon he gave vent, in man}- re- 
proaches, to his discontent with his own priests, uttering at 
the same time loud praises of our liberty. " But," he con- 
tinued, "as regards confession: how stands it with you? 
We are told that all men, even if they are not Christians, 
must confess, but that inasmuch as many, from their obdu- 
racy, are debarred from the right way, they nevertheless 
make confession to an old tree ; which, indeed, is impious 
and ridiculous enough, but yet serves to show, that at least 
they recognize the necessity of confession." Upon this I 
explained to him our Lutheran notions of confession, and 
our practice concerning it. All this appeared to him very 
easy, for he expressed an opinion that it was almost the 
same as confessing to a tree. After a brief hesitation, he 
begged of me very gravely to inform him correctly on another 
point. He had, forsooth, heard from the mouth of his own 
confessor (who, he said, was a truthful man) , that we Protest- 
ants are at liberty to marry our own sisters ; which assuredly 
is a chose un pen forte. As I denied this to be the case, 
and attempted to give him a more favorable opinion of our 
doctrine, he made no special remark on the latter, which 
evidently appeared to him a very ordinary and every-day 
sort of a thing, but turned aside my remarks by a new ques- 
tion. " We have been assured," he observed, " that Fred- 
erick the Great, who has won so many victories, even over 
the faithful, and filled the world with his glory, — that he 
whom every one takes to be a heretic is really a Catholic, 
and has received a dispensation from the Pope to keep the 
fact secret. For while, as is well known, he never enters 
any of your churches, he diligently attends the true worship 
in a subterranean chapel, though with a broken heart, be- 
cause he dare not openly avow the holy religion, since, were 
he to do so. his Prussians, who are a brutish people and 
furious heretics, would no doubt murder him on the instant; 
.•Hid to risk that would do no good to the cause. On these 
grounds the Holy Father has given him permission to wor- 
ship in secret, in return for which he quietly does as much 



168 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

as possible to propagate and to favor the true and only sav- 
ing faith." I allowed all this to pass, merely observing, as 
it was so great a secret, no one could be a witness to its 
truth. The rest of our conversation was nearly of the same 
cast ; so that I could not but admire the shrewd priests, who 
sought to parry and to distort whatever was likely to en- 
lighten or vary the dark outline of their traditional dogmas. 

I left Perugia on a glorious morning, and felt the happi- 
ness of being once more alone. The site of the citv is 
beautiful, and the view of the lake in the highest degree re- 
freshing. These scenes are deeply impressed on my memory. 
At first the road went downwards, then it entered a cheerful 
valley enclosed on both sides by distant hills, till at last 
Assisi lay before us. 

Here, as I had learned from Palladio and Volckmann, a 
noble Temple of Minerva, built in the time of Augustus, was 
still standing, in perfect repair. At Madonna del Angelo, 
therefore, I quitted my vetturhio, leaving him to proceed by 
himself to Foligno, and set off, in the face of a strong wind, 
for Assisi ; for I longed for a foot-journey through a country 
so solitary for me. I left on my left the vast mass of 
churches, piled Babel-wise one over another (in one of which 
rest the remains of the holy St. Francis of Assisi), with 
aversion ; for I thought to myself, that the people who assem- 
bled in them were mostly of the same stamp as my captain 
and travelling-companion. Having asked of a good-looking 
3 T outh the way to the Delia Minerva, he accompanied me to 
the top of the town, for it lies on the side of a hill. At 
last we reached what is properly the old town ; and, behold ! 
before my eyes stood the noble edifice, — the first complete 
memorial of antiquity that I had ever seen. A modest tem- 
ple, as befitting so small a town, and yet so perfect, so well 
conceived, that anywhere it would be an ornament. More- 
over, in these matters, how grand were the ancients in the 
choice of their sites ! The temple stands about halfway 
up the mountain, where two hills meet on the level place 
which is to this day called the Piazza. This itself slightly 
rises, and is intersected by the meeting of four roads, which 
make a somewhat dilated St. Andrew's cross. Probably the 
houses which are now opposite the temple, and block up 
the view from it, were not standing there in ancient times. 
If they were removed, we should have a south prospect over 
a rich and fertile country, and at the same time the Temple 
of Minerva would be visible from all sides. The line of the 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 169 

roads is, in all probability, very ancient, since they follow 
the shape and inclination of the hill. The temple does not 
stand in the centre of the flat ; but its site is so arranged, 
that the traveller approaching from Rome catches a fine 
foreshortened view of it. To give an idea of it, it is neces- 
sary to draw, not only the building itself, but also its happily 
chosen site. 

Looking at the facade, I could not sufficiently admire the 
genius-like identity of design which the architects have here 
as elsewhere maintained. The order is Corinthian, the inter- 
columnar spaces being somewhat above two modules. The 
bases of the columns and the plinths seem to rest on pedes- 
tals, but it is only an appearance. The socle is cut through 
in five places ; and, at each of these, five steps ascend be- 
tween the columns, and bring you to a level, on which prop- 
erly the columns rest, and from which, also, you enter the 
temple. The bold idea of cutting through the socle was 
happily hazarded ; for, as the temple is situated on a hill, 
the flight of steps must otherwise have been carried up to 
such a height as would have inconveniently narrowed the 
area of the temple. As it is, however, it is impossible to 
determine how many steps there originally were ; for, with 
the exception of a very few, they are all choked up with 
dirt, or paved over. Most reluctantly did I tear myself from 
the sight, and determined to call the attention of architects 
to this noble edifice, in order that an accurate draught of it 
may be furnished. For what a sorry thing tradition is, I 
here again find occasion to remark. Palladio, whom I trust 
in every matter, gives, indeed, a sketch of this temple. But 
certainly he never can have seen it himself : for he gives it 
real pedestals above the area, b}* which means the columns 
appear disproportionately high, and the result is a sort of 
unsightly Palmyrene monstrosity ; whereas, in fact, its look 
is so full of repose and beauty as to satisfy both the eye and 
the mind. The impression which the sight of this edifice left 
upon me is not to be expressed, and will bring forth imper- 
ishable fruits. It was a beautiful evening, and I now turned 
to descend the mountain. As I was proceeding along the 
Roman road, calm and composed, suddenly I heard behind 
me some rough voices in dispute. I fancied that it was only 
the Sbirri, whom I had previously noticed in the town. I 
therefore went on without care, but still with my ears listen- 
ing to what they might be saying behind me. I soon became 
aware that I was the object of their remarks. Four men of 



170 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

this bod} 7 (two of whom were armed with guns) passed me 
in the rudest way possible, muttering to each other, and. 
turning back after a few steps, suddenly surrounded me. 
They demanded my name, and what I was doing there. I 
said that I w r as a stranger, and had travelled on foot to 
Assisi, while my vetturino had gone on to Foligno. It ap- 
peared to them very improbable that any one should pay 
for a carriage, and yet travel on foot. The} 7 asked me if I 
had been visiting the Gran Convento. I answered " No," 
but assured them that I knew the building of old ; but, being 
an architect, my chief object this time was simply to obtain 
a sight of the Maria della Minerva, which, they must be 
aware, was an architectural model. This they could not con- 
tradict, but seemed to take it very ill that I had not paid a 
visit to the saint, and avowed their suspicion that probably 
my business was to smuggle contraband goods. I pointed 
out to them how ridiculous it was that a man who walked 
openly through the streets, alone, and without packs, and 
with empty pockets, should be taken for a contrabandist. 

However, upon this I offered to return to the town with 
them, and to go before the podesta, and, by showing my 
papers, prove to him that I w 7 as an honest traveller. L^pon 
this they muttered together for a while, and then expressed 
their opinion that it was unnecessary ; and, as I behaved 
throughout with coolness and gravity, they at last left me, 
and turned towards the town. I looked after them. As 
these rude churls moved on in the foreground, behind them 
the beautiful Temple of Minerva once more caught my eye 
to soothe and console me with its sight. I turned then to 
the left, to look at the heavy Cathedral of St. Francisco, and 
was about to continue my way, when one of the unarmed 
Sbirri, separating himself from the rest, came up to me in a 
quiet and friendly manner. Saluting me, he said, " Signior 
stranger, you ought at least to give me something to drink 
your health ; for I assure you, that, from the very first, I took 
you to be an honorable man, and loudly maintained this 
opinion in opposition to my comrades. They, however, arc 
hot-headed and over-hasty fellows, and have no knowledge 
of the world. You yourself must have observed that I was the 
first to allow the force of, and to assent to, your remarks." 
I praised him on this score, and- urged him to protect all 
honorable strangers who might henceforward come to Assisi 
for the sake either of religion or of art, and especially all 
architects who might wish to do honor to the town b} 7 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 171 

measuring and sketching the Temple of Minerva, since a 
correct drawing or engraving of it had never yet been taken. 
If he were to accompany them, they would, I assured them, 
give him substantial proofs of their gratitude ; and with these 
words I put into his hand some silver, which, as exceeding 
his expectation, delighted him above measure. He begged 
me to pay a second visit to the town ; remarking that I 
ought not on any account to miss the festival of the saint, 
on which I might, with the greatest safety, delight and amuse 
myself. Indeed if, being a good-looking fellow, I should 
wish to be introduced to the fair sex, he assured me that the 
prettiest and most respectable ladies would willingly receive 
me, or any stranger, upon his recommendation. He took his 
leave, promising to remember me at vespers before the tomb 
of the saint, and to offer up a prayer for my safety throughout 
my travels. Upon this we parted, and most delighted was I 
to be again alone with nature and myself. The road to 
Foligno was one of the most beautiful and agreeable walks 
that I ever took. For four full hours I walked along the side 
of a mountain, having on my left a richly cultivated valley. 

It is but sorry travelling with a vettnrino : it is always best 
to follow at one's ease on foot. In this way had I travelled 
from Ferrara to this place. As regards the arts and mechani- 
cal invention, on which, however, the ease and comforts of 
life mainly depend, Italy, so highly favored by nature, is 
very far behind all other countries. The carriage of the 
vetturino, which is still called " sedia," or " seat," certainly 
took its origin from the ancient litters drawn by mules, in 
which females and aged persons, or the highest dignitaries, 
used to be carried about. Instead of the hinder mule, on 
whose yoke the shafts used to rest, two wheels have been 
placed beneath the carriage, and no further improvement has 
been thought of. In this way one is still jolted along, just 
as they were centuries ago. It is the same with their houses 
and every thing else. 

If one wishes to see realized the poetic idea of men in 
primeval times, spending most of their lives beneath the open 
heaven, and only occasionally, when compelled by necessity, 
retiring for shelter into the caves, he must visit the houses 
hereabouts, especially those in the rural districts, which are 
quite in the style and fashion of caves. Such an incredible 
absence of care do the Italians evince in order not to grow 
old by thinking. With unheard of frivolity, they neglect to 
make any preparation for the long nights of winter, and in 



172 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

consequence, for a considerable portion of the year, suffer like 
dogs. Here in Foligno, in the midst of a perfectly Homeric 
household, — the whole family being gathered together in 
a large hall, round a fire on the hearth, with plenty of run- 
ning backward and forward, and of scolding and shouting, 
while supper is going on at a long table like that in the pic- 
ture of the Wedding-Feast at Cana, — I seize an opportunity 
of writing this, as one of the family has ordered an inkstand 
to be brought me, — a luxury, which, judging from other 
circumstances, I did not look for. These pages, however, 
tell too plainly of the cold, and of the inconvenience of my 
writing-table. 

I am now made only too sensible of the rashness of travel- 
ling in this country without a servant, and without providing 
one's self well with every necessary. What with the ever- 
changing currency, the vetturini, the extortion, the wretched 
inns, one who, like myself, is travelling alone for the first 
time in this country, hoping to find uninterrupted pleasure, 
will be sure to find himself miserably disappointed every day. 
However, I wished to see the country at any cost ; and, even 
if I must be dragged to Rome on Ixion's wheel, I shall not 
complain. 

Terni, Oct. 27, 178G. 
Evening. 

Again sitting in a " cave," which, only a year before, suf- 
fered from an earthquake. The little town lies in the midst 
of a rich country (for taking a circuit round the city I 
explored it with pleasure), at the beginning of a beautiful 
plain which lies between two ridges of limestone hills. 
Terni, like Bologna, is situated at the foot of the mountain 
range. 

Almost ever since the papal officer left me, I have had a 
priest for my companion. The latter appears better con- 
tented with his profession than the soldier, and is ready to 
enlighten me, whom he very soon saw to be a heretic, by 
answering any question I might put to him concerning the 
ritual and other matters of his church. By thus mixing 
continually with new characters, I thoroughly obtain my 
object. It is absolutely necessary to hear the people talking 
together, if you would form a true and lively image of the 
whole country. The Italians are in the strangest manner 
possible rivals and adversaries of each other. Every one is 
strongly enthusiastic in the praise of his own town and slate. 
They cannot bear with one another : and, even in the same 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 173 

city, the different ranks nourish perpetual feuds, and all this 
with a profoundly vivacious and most obvious passionate- 
ness ; so that, while they expose one another's pretensions, 
the} 7 keep up an amusing comedy all day long. And yet 
they are quick at understanding others, and seem quite aware 
how impossible it is for a stranger to enter into their ways 
and thoughts. 

I ascended to Spoleto, and went along the aqueduct, which 
serves also for a bridge from one mountain to another. The 
ten brick arches which span the valley have quietly stood 
there through centuries ; and the water still flows into Spoleto, 
and reaches its remotest quarters. This is the third great 
work of the ancients that I have seen, and still the same 
grandeur of conception. A second nature made to work for 
social objects, — such was their architecture. And so arose 
the amphitheatre, the temple, and the aqueduct. Now at 
last I can understand the justice of my hatred for all arbi- 
trary caprices, as, for instance, the winter casts on white 
stone — a nothing about nothing — a monstrous piece of 
confectionery ornament ; and so also with a thousand other 
things. But all that is now dead ; for whatever does not 
possess a true intrinsic vitality cannot live long, and can 
neither be nor ever become great. 

AVhat entertainment and instruction have I not had cause 
to be thankful for during these eight last weeks ! but in fact 
it has also cost me some trouble. I kept my ej'es continually 
open, and strove to stamp deep on my mind the images of 
all I saw. That was all : judge of them I could not, even if 
it had been in my power. 

San Crocefisso, a singular chapel on the roadside, did not 
look, to my mind, like the remains of a temple which had 
once stood on the same site. It was evident that columns, 
pillars, and pediments had been found, and incongruously 
put together, not stupidly, but madly. It does not admit of 
description : however, there is somewhere or other an en- 
graving of it. 

And so it may seem strange to some that we should go on 
troubling ourselves to acquire an idea of antiquity, although 
we have nothing before us but ruins, out of which we must 
first painfully reconstruct the very thing we wish to form an 
idea of. 

With what is called "classical ground" the case stands 
rather different. Here, if only we do not go to work fanci- 
fully, but take the ground really as it is, then we shall have 



174 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

the decisive arena which moulded more or less the greatest of 
events. Accordingly I have hitherto actively employed my 
geological and agricultural eye to the suppressing of fancy 
and sensibility, in order to gain for myself an unbiassed and 
distinct notion of the locality. By such means history fixes 
itself on our minds with a marvellous vividness, and the effect 
is utterly inconceivable to another. It is something of this 
sort that makes me feel so very great a desire to read Tacitus 
in Rome. 

I must not, however, forget the weather. As I descended 
the Apennines from Bologna, the clouds gradually retired 
towards the north ; afterwards they changed their course, 
and moved towards Lake Trasimene. Here they continued to 
hang, though perhaps they may have moved a little farther 
southward. Instead, therefore, of the great plain of the Po, 
sending, as it does during the summer, all its clouds to the 
Tyrolese mountains, it now sends a part of them towards the 
Apennines : from thence, perhaps, comes the rainy season. 

They are now beginning to gather the olives. It is done 
here with the hand : in other places they are beat down with 
sticks. If winter comes on before all are gathered, the rest 
are allowed to remain on the trees till spring. Yesterday 
I noticed in a very strong soil the largest and oldest trees I 
have ever yet seen. 

The favor of the Muses, like that of the demons, is not 
always shown us in a suitable moment. Yesterday I felt 
inspired to undertake a work which at present would be ill- 
timed. Approaching nearer and nearer to the centre of 
Romanism, surrounded by Roman Catholics, boxed up with 
a priest in a sedan, and striving anxiously to observe and to 
study without prejudice true nature and noble art, I have 
arrived at a vivid conviction that all traces of original Chris- 
tianity are extinct here. Indeed, while I tried to bring it 
before my mind in its purity, as we see it recorded in the 
Acts of the Apostles, I could not help shuddering to think 
of the shapeless, not to say grotesque, mass of heathenism 
which heavily overlies its benign beginnings. Accordingly, 
the Wandering Jew again occurred to me as having been 
a witness of all this wonderful development and envelop- 
ment, and as having lived to experience so strange a state 
of things, that Christ himself, when he shall come a second 
time to gather in his harvest, will be in danger of being 
crucified a second time. The legend u A^enio iteruin cruci- 
iigi " was to serve me as the material of this catastrophe. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 175 

Dreams of this kind floated before me ; for, out of impa- 
tience to get onwards, I used to sleep in my clothes. And I 
know of nothing more beautiful than to wake before dawn, 
and, between sleeping and waking, to seat one's self in one's 
car, and travel on to meet the day. 

Citta Castellana, Oct. 28, 1786. 

I will not fail you this last evening. It is not yet eight 
o'clock, and all are already in bed : so I can for a good 
"last time" think over what is gone by, and revel in the 
anticipation of what is so shortly to come. This has been 
throughout a bright and glorious day, — the morning very 
cold, the day clear and warm, the evening somewhat windy, 
but very beautiful. 

It was very late when we set off from Terni ; and we 
reached Narni before day, and so 1 did not see the bridge. 
Valleys and lowlands ; now near, now distant prospects ; a 
rich country, but all of limestone, and not a trace of any 
other formation. 

Otricoli is built on an alluvial gravel-hill thrown up by one 
of the ancient inundations. It is built of lava brought from 
the other side of the river. 

As soon as one is over the bridge, one finds one's self in a 
volcanic region, either of real lava, or of the native rock 
changed by the heat and by fusion. You ascend a moun- 
tain, which you might set down at once for gray lava. It con- 
tains many white crystals of the shape of garnets. The 
causeway from the heights to the Citta Castellana is like- 
wise composed of this stone, now worn extremely smooth. 
The city is built on a bed of volcanic tufa, in which I thought 
I could discover ashes, pumice-stone, and pieces of lava. 
The view from the castle is extremely beautiful. Soracte 
stands out and alone in the prospect most picturesquely. It 
is probably a limestone mountain of the same formation as 
the Apennines. The volcanic region is far lower than the 
Apennines ; and it is only the streams tearing through it that 
have formed out of it hills and rocks, which, with their over- 
hanging ledges and other marked features of the landscape, 
furnish most glorious objects for the painter. 

To-morrow evening and I shall be in Rome. Even yet I 
can scarcely believe it possible. And, if this wish is fulfilled, 
what shall I wish for afterwards? I know not, except it be 
that I may safely stand in my little pheasant-loaded canoe, 
and may find all my friends well, happy, and unchanged. 



176 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

ROME. 

Rome, Nov. 1, 1786. 

At last I can speak out, and greet my friends with good 
humor. May they pardon my secrecy, and what has been, 
as it were, a subterranean journey hither. For scarcely to 
myself did I venture to say whither I was hurrying*. Even 
on the road I often had my fears ; and it was only as I 
passed under the Porta del Fopolo that I felt certain of 
reaching Rome. 

And now let me also say that a thousand times, ay, at 
all times, do I think of }'ou, in the neighborhood of these 
objects which I never believed I should visit alone. It was 
only when I saw every one bound, body and soul, to the 
north, and all longing for those countries utterly extinct 
among them, that I resolved to undertake the long, solitary 
journey, and to seek that centre towards which I was at- 
tracted by an irresistible impulse. Indeed, for the few last 
years it had become with me a kind of disease, which could 
only be cured by the sight and presence of the absent object. 
Now, at length, I may venture to confess the truth. It 
reached at last such a height that I durst not look at a 
Latin book, or even an engraving of Italian scenery. The 
craving to see this country was over-ripe. Now it is sat- 
isfied. Friends and country have once more become right 
dear to me, and the return to them is a w T ished-for object ; 
nay, the more ardently desired, the more firmly I feel con- 
vinced that I bring with me too many treasures for personal 
enjoyment or private use, but such as through life may 
serve others, as well as myself, for edification and guidance. 

Rome, Nov. 1, 178G. 

Well, at last I am arrived in this great capital of the 
world. If, fifteen years ago, I could have seen it in good 
company, with a well-informed guide, I should have thought 
myself very fortunate. But as it was to be that I should 
thus see it alone, and with my own eyes, it is well that this 
joy has fallen to my lot so late in life. 

Over the mountains of the Tyrol I have as good as flown. 
Verona, Vicenza, Padua, and Venice I have carefully 
looked at; hastily glanced at Ferrara, Cento, Bologna; and 
scarcely seen Florence at all. My anxiety to reach Rome 
was so great, and it so grew with me every moment, that 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 177 

to think of stopping anywhere was quite out of the question. 
Even in Florence, I only staid three hours. Now I am 
here at my ease, and, as it would seem, shall be tranquillized 
for my whole life ; for we may almost say that a new life 
begins when a man once sees with his own eyes all that 
before he has but partially heard or read of. All the 
dreams of my youth I now behold realized before me. The 
subjects of the first engravings I ever remember seeing (sev- 
eral views of Rome were hung up in an ante-room of my 
father's house) stand bodily before my sight, and all that 
I had long been acquainted with through paintings or draw- 
ings, engravings or woodcuts, plaster casts and cork models, 
are here collectively presented to my eye. Wherever I go I 
find some old acquaintance in this new world. It is all just 
as I had thought it, and yet all is new. And just the same 
might I remark of my own observations and my own ideas. 
I have not gained any new thoughts ; but the older ones 
have become so defined, so vivid, and so coherent, that they 
may almost pass for new ones. 

When Pygmalion's Elisa, which he had shaped entirely in 
accordance with his wishes, and to which he had given as 
much of truth and nature as an artist can, moved at last 
towards him, and said, u It is I ! " — how different was the 
living form from the chiselled stone ! 

In a moral sense, too, how salutary it is for me to live 
a while among a wholly sensual people, of whom so much 
has been said and written, and of whom every stranger 
judges according to the standard he brings with him. I can 
excuse every one who blames and reproaches them. They 
stand too far apart from us, and for a stranger to associate 
with them is difficult and expensive. 

Rome, Nov. 3, 1786. 
One of the chief motives with which I had deluded myself 
for hurrying to Rome was the Festival of All-Saints ; for I 
thought within myself, if Rome pays so much honor to a 
single saint, what will she not show to them all ! But I was 
under a mistake. The Roman Church has never been very 
fond of celebrating with remarkable pomp any common fes- 
tival : and so she leaves every order to celebrate in silence 
the especial memory of its own patron ; for the name " festi- 
val." and the day especially set apart to each saint, is prop- 
erly the occasion when each receives his highest commemo- 
ration. 



178 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Yesterday, however, which was the Festival of All-Souls, 
things went better with me. This commemoration is kept by 
the Pope in his private chapel on the Quirinal. I hastened 
with Tischbein to the Monte Cavallo. The piazza before the 
palace has something altogether singular, so irregular is it, 
and yet so grand and so beautiful ! 1 now cast eyes upon the 
Colossuses ! Neither eye nor mind was large enough to take 
them in. Ascending a broad flight of steps, we followed the 
crowd through a splendid and spacious hall. In this ante- 
chamber, directly opposite to the chapel, and in sight of the 
numerous apartments, one feels somewhat strange to find 
one's self beneath the same roof with the vicar of Christ. 

The office had begun. Pope and cardinals were already 
in the church, — the Holy Father, of a highly handsome and 
dignified form ; the cardinals, of different ages and figures. 
I was seized with a strange, longing desire that the head of 
the Church might open his golden mouth, and, speaking with 
rapture of the ineffable bliss of the happy soul, set us all, too, 
in a rapture. But as I only saw him moving backward and 
forward before the altar, and turning, now to this side, and 
now to that, and only muttering to himself, and conducting 
himself just like a common parish priest, the original sin 
of Protestantism revived within me, and the well-known 
and ordinary mass for the dead had no charms for me. For 
most assuredly Christ himself — he who, in his youthful days 
and even as a child, excited men's wonder by his oral 
exposition of Scripture — did never thus teach and work in 
silence ; but, as we learn from the Gospels, he was ever 
ready to utter his wise and spiritual words. What, I asked 
myself, would he say, were he to come in among us, and 
see his image on earth thus mumbling, and sailing backward 
and forward? The " Venio iterum crucifigi " again crossed 
my mind, and I nudged my companion to come out into the 
freer air of the vaulted and painted hall. 

Here we found a crowd of persons attentively observing 
the rich paintings ; for the Festival of All-Souls is also the 
holiday of all the artists in Rome. Not only the chapel, but 
the whole palace also, with all its rooms, is for many hours 
on this day open and free to every one ; no fees being 
required, and the visitors not being liable to be hurried on 
by the chamberlain. 

The paintings on the walls engaged my attention, and I 
now formed a new acquaintance with some excellent artists 
whose very names had hitherto been almost unknown to me. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 179 

For instance, I now, for the first time, learned to appreciate 
and to love the cheerful Carlo Maratti. 

But chiefly welcome to me were the masterpieces of the 
artists of whose style and manner I already had some 
impression. I saw with amazement the wonderful Petro- 
nilla of Guercino, which was formerly in St. Peter's, where 
a mosaic copy now stands in the place of the original. The 
body of the saint is lifted out of the grave ; and the same 
person, just re-animated, is being received into the heights 
of heaven by a celestial youth. Whatever may be alleged 
against this double action, the picture is invaluable. 

Still more struck was I with a picture of Titian's. It 
throws into the shade all I have hitherto seen. Whether my 
eye is more practised, or whether it is really the most excel- 
lent, I cannot determine. An immense mass-robe, stiff with 
embroidery and gold-embossed figures, envelops the dignified 
frame of a bishop. With a massive pastoral staff in his left 
hand, he is gazing with a look of rapture towards heaven, 
while he holds in his right a book, out of which he seems to 
have imbibed the divine enthusiasm with which he is inspired. 
Behind him a beautiful maiden, holding a palm-branch in her 
baud, and full of affectionate sympathy, is looking over his 
shoulder into the open book. A grave old man on the right 
stands quite close to the book, but appears to pay no atten- 
tion to it. The key in his hand suggests the possibility of his 
familiar acquaintance with its contents. Over against this 
group a naked, well-made 3011th, wounded with an arrow, 
and in chains, is looking straight before him, with a slight 
expression of resignation in his countenance. In the inter- 
mediate space stand two monks, bearing a cross and lilies, 
and devoutly looking up to heaven. Then in the clear 
upper space is a semicircular wall, which encloses them all. 
Above moves a Madonna in highest glory, sympathizing 
with all that passes below. The young, sprightly child on 
her bosom, with a radiant countenance, is holding out a 
crown, and seems, indeed, on the point of casting it down. 
On both sides, angels are floating by, who hold in their hands 
crowns in abundance. High above all the figures, and even 
the triple-rayed aureola, soars the celestial dove, as at once 
the centre and finish of the whole group. 

We said to ourselves, "Some ancient holy legend must 
have furnished the subject of this picture in order that these 
various and ill-assorted personages should have been brought 
together so artistically and so significantly." We ask not, 



180 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

however, why and wherefore : we take it all for granted, and 
only wonder at the inestimable piece of art. Less unintelligi- 
ble, but still mysterious, is a fresco of Guido's in this chapel. 
A virgin, in childish beauty, loveliness, and innocence, is 
seated, and quietly sewing. Two angels stand by her side, 
waiting to do her service at the slightest bidding. Youthful 
innocence and industry, the beautiful picture seems to tell 
us, are guarded and honored by the heavenly beings. No 
legend is wanting here, — no story needed to furnish an ex- 
planation. 

Now, however, to cool a little my artistic enthusiasm, a 
merry incident occurred. I observed that several of the (Ger- 
man artists, who came up to Tischbein as an old acquaint- 
ance, after staring at me, went their ways again. Having 
left me for a few moments, one returned, and said, "We 
have had a good joke. The report that you were in Rome 
had spread among us, and the attention of us artists was 
called to the one unknown stranger. Now, there was one of 
our body who used for a long time to assert that he had met 
you, nay, he asseverated he had lived on very friendly 
terms with you, — a fact which we were not so ready to 
believe. However, we have just called upon him to look at 
you, and solve our doubts. He at once stoutly denied that 
it was } T ou, and said that in the stranger there was not a 
trace of your person or mien." So, then, at least, our 
incognito is for the moment secure, and will afford us some- 
thing hereafter to laugh at. 

I now mixed at my ease with the troop of artists, and 
asked them who were the painters of several pictures whose 
style of art was unknown to me. At last I was particularly 
struck by a picture representing St. George killing the dragon 
and setting free the virgin. No one could tell me whose it 
was. L^pon this, a little, modest man, who up to this time 
had not opened his mouth, came forward, and told me it was 
by Pordenonc, the Venetian painter ; and that it was one of 
the best of his paintings, and displayed all his merits. I 
was now well able to explain why I liked it. The picture 
pleased me because I possessed some knowledge of the 
Venetian school, and was better able to appreciate the excel- 
lences of its best masters. 

The artist, my informant, was Heinrich Meyer, a Swiss, who 
for some years had been studying at Rome with a friend of the 
name of Rolla, and who had taken excellent drawings in Spain 
of antique busts, and was well read in the history oi' ail. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 181 

Rome, Nov. 5, 1786. 

I have now been here seven days, and have, by degrees, 
formed in my mind a general idea of the city. We go dili- 
gently backward and forward. While I am thus making 
myself acquainted with the plan of old and new Rome, view- 
ing the ruins and the buildings, visiting this and that villa, 
the grandest and most remarkable objects are slowly and 
leisurely contemplated. I do but keep my eyes open, and 
see, and then go and come again ; for it is only in Rome one 
can duly prepare himself for Rome. 

It must, however, be confessed that it is a sad and melan- 
choly business to prick and track out ancient Rome in new 
Rome : however, it must be done, and we may hope at least 
for an incalculable gratification. We meet with traces both 
of majesty and of ruin, which alike surpass all conception. 
What the barbarians spared, the builders of new Rome made 
havoc of. 

When one thus beholds an object two thousand years old 
and more, but so manifoldly and thoroughly altered by the 
changes of time, but sees, nevertheless, the same soil, the 
same mountains, and often, indeed, the same walls and 
columns, one becomes, as it were, a contemporary of the 
great counsels of fortune ; and thus it becomes difficult for 
the observer to trace from the beginning Rome following 
Rome, and not only new Rome succeeding the old, but also 
the several epochs of both old and new in succession. I 
endeavor, first of all, to grope my way alone through the 
obscurer parts; for this is the only plan by which one can 
hope fully and completely to turn to use the excellent intro- 
ductory works which have been written from the fifteenth 
century to the present day. The first artists and scholars 
have occupied their whole lives with these objects. 

And this vastness has a strangely tranquillizing effect upon 
you in Rome, while you pass from place to place in order to 
visit the most remarkable objects. In other places one has 
to search for what is important : here one is oppressed and 
borne down with numberless phenomena. Wherever one 
goes and casts a look around, the eye is at once struck with 
some landscape, forms of every kind and style ; palaces and 
ruins, gardens and statuary, distant views of villas, cottages 
and stables, triumphal arches and columns, often crowding 
so close together, that they might all be sketched on a single 
sheet of paper. He ought to have a hundred hands to write, 
for what can a single pen do here? And besides, by the; 



182 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

evening one is quite weary and exhausted with the day's 
seeing and admiring. 

Rome, Nov. 7, 1786. 

But my friends must pardon me, if in future I am found 
chary of words. During travel one usually rakes together 
all that he meets on his way : every day brings something- 
new, and he then hastens to reflect upon and judge of it. 
Here, however, we come into a very great school indeed, 
where every day says so much, that we cannot venture to 
say airy thing of the day itself. Indeed, people would do 
well, if, tarrying here for years together, they observed a 
while a Pythagorean silence. 

I am very well. The weather, as the Romans say, is 
brutto. The south wind, the sirocco, is blowing, and brings 
with it every day more or less of rain. For my part, I do not 
find the weather disagreeable : such as it is, it is warmer than 
the rainy days of summer are with us. 

The more I become acquainted with Tischbein's talents, as 
well as his principles and views of art, the higher I appre- 
ciate and value them. He has laid before me his drawings 
and sketches. They have great merit, and are full of high 
promise. His visit to Bodmer led him to fix his thoughts 
on the infancy of the human race, when man found himself 
standing on the earth, and had to solve the problem how he 
must best fulfil his destiny of being the lord of creation. 

As a suggestive introduction to a series of illustrations of 
this subject, he has attempted symbolically to vindicate the 
high antiquitj' of the world. Mountains overgrown with 
noble forests, ravines worn out by water-courses, burnt-out 
volcanoes still faintly smoking. In the foreground the 
mighty stock of a patriarchal oak still remains in the ground, 
on whose half-bared roots a deer is trying the strength of 
his horns, — a conception as fine as it is beautifully exe- 
cuted. 

In another most remarkable piece he has painted man 
yoking the horse, and by his superior skill, if not strength, 
bringing all the other creatures of the earth, the air, and the 
water, under his dominion. The composition is of extraordi- 
nary beauty : when finished in oils, it cannot fail of producing 
a great effect. A drawing of it must, at any cost, be secured 
for Weimar. When this is finished, he purposes to paint an 
assembly of old men, aged, and experienced in council, in 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 183 

which he intends to introduce the portraits of living person- 
ages. At present, however, he is sketching away with the 
greatest enthusiasm at a battle-piece. Two bodies of cav- 
alry are fighting with equal courage and resolution : between 
them yawns an awful chasm, which but few horses would 
attempt to clear. The arts of defensive warfare are useless 
here. A wild resolve, a bold attack, a successful leap, or 
else to be hurled in the abyss below ! This picture will 
afford him an opportunity to display in a very striking 
manner his knowledge of horses and of their make and 
movements. 

Now, it is Tischbein's wish to have these sketches (and a 
series of others to follow, or to be intercalated between them) 
connected together by a poem, which may serve to explain 
the drawings, and, by giving them a definite context, may 
lend to them both a body and a charm. 

The idea is beautiful ; only the artist and the poet must be 
many years together in order to carry out and to execute 
such a work. 

The Loggie of Raphael, and the great pictures of the 
School of Athens, etc., I have now seen for the first and 
only time ; so that for me to judge of them at present is like 
having to make out and to judge of Homer from some half- 
obliterated and much-injured manuscript. The gratification 
of the first impression is incomplete : it is only when they 
have been carefully studied and examined, one by one, that 
the enjoyment becomes perfect. The best preserved are the 
paintings on the ceilings of the Loggie. They are as fresh as 
if painted j'esterday. The subjects are symbolical. Very 
few, however, are by Raphael's own hand ; but they are ex- 
cellently executed, after his designs and under his eye. 

Many a time, in years past, did I entertain the strange 
whim, ardently to wish that I might one day be taken to 
Italy by some well-educated man, — by some Englishman 
well learned in art and in history. And now it has all been 
brought about much better than I could have anticipated. 
Tischbein has been living here long as a sincere friend to 
me, and during his stay lias always cherished the wish of 
being able to show me Rome one day. Our intimacy is old 
by letter, though new by presence. Where could I have met 
witli a worthier guide? And, if my time is limited, I will at 
least learn and enjoy as much as possible. And yet, all this 
notwithstanding, I clearly foresee, that, when I leave Rome 
I shall wish that I were coming to it. 



184 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Rome, Nov. 8, 178G. 
My strange and perhaps whimsical incognito proves use- 
ful to ine in many ways that I never should have thought of. 
As every one thinks himself in duty bound to ignore who I 
am, and consequently never ventures to speak to me of my- 
self and my works, they have no alternative left them but to 
speak of themselves, or of the matters in which the}' are most 
interested ; and in this way I become circumstantially informed 
of the occupations of each, and of every thing remarkable that 
is either taken in hand or produced. Ilofrath Reiffenstein 
good-naturedly humors this whim of mine. As, however, for 
special reasons, he could not bear the name I had assumed, 
he immediately made a baron of me ; and I am now called the 
Baron gegen Rondanini ilber ( u the baron who lives opposite 
to the palace Rondanini "). This designation is sufficiently 
precise, especially as the Italians are accustomed to speak of 
people either by their Christian names, or else by some nick- 
name : in short, I have gained my object ; and I escape the 
dreadful annoyance of having to give to everybody an ac- 
count of myself and my works. 

Rome, Nov. 0, 1786. 
I frequently stand still a moment to survey, as it were, the 
heights I have already won. With much delight I look back 
to Venice, that grand creation that sprang out of the bosom 
of the sea, like Minerva out of the head of Jupiter. In Rome 
the Rotunda, both by its exterior and interior, has moved me 
to offer a willing homage to its magnificence. In St. Peter's 
I learned to understand how art, no less than nature, anni- 
hilates the artificial measures and dimensions of man. And 
in the same way the Apollo Belvedere also has again drawn 
me out of reality. For, as even the most correct engravings 
furnish no adequate idea of these buildings, so the case is 
the same with respect to the marble original of this statue 
as compared with the plaster models of it, which, however, 
I formerly used to look upon as beautiful. 

Rome, Nov. 10, 1780. 
Here I am now living with a calmness and tranquillity to 
which I have for a long while been a stranger. My practice 
to see and take all tilings as they are, my fidelity in letting 
the eye be my light, my perfect renunciation of all preten- 
sion, have again come to my aid, and make me calmly but 
most intensely happy. Every day has its fresh, remarkable 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 185 

object ; every day its new, grand, unequalled paintings, and 
a whole which a man may long think of and dream of, but 
which, with all his power of imagination, he can never 
reach.- 

Yesterday I was at the Pyramid of Cestius, and in the 
evening on the Palatine, on the top of which are the ruins 
of the Palace of the Caesars, which stand there like walls of 
rock. Of all this, however, no idea can he combed. In 
truth, there is nothing little here, although, indeed, occa- 
sionally something to find fault with, — something more or 
less absurd in taste ; and yet even this partakes of the uni- 
versal grandeur of all around. 

When, however, I return to myself, as every one so readi- 
ly does on all occasions, I discover within me a feeling which 
affords me infinite delight, which, indeed, I even venture to 
express. Whoever here looks around with earnestness, and 
has eyes to see, must become in a measure solid : he can- 
not but apprehend an idea of solidity with a vividness which 
is nowhere else possible. 

The mind becomes, as it were, primed with capacity, with 
an earnestness without severity, and with a definiteness of 
character with joy. With me, at least, it seems as if I had 
never before so rightly estimated the things of the world as 
I do here. I rejoice when I think of the blessed effects of 
all this on the whole of my future being. And, let me jum- 
ble together the things as I may, order will somehow come 
into them. I am not here to enjoy myself after my own 
fashion, but to bus}' myself with the great objects around, 
to learn, and to improve myself ere I am forty years old. 

Rome, Nov. 11, 178G. 
Yesterday I visited the nymph JEgeria, and then the Hip- 
podrome of Caracalla, the ruined tombs along the Via Appia, 
and the tomb of Metella, which is the first to give one a true 
idea of what solid masonry really is. These men worked 
for eternity. All causes of decay were calculated, except 
the rage of the spoiler, which nothing can resist. Right heart- 
ily did I wish you had been there. The remains of the 
principal aqueduct are highly venerable. How beautiful and 
grand a design, — to supply a whole people with water by so 
vast a structure ! In the evening we came upon the Coli- 
seum, when it was already twilight. When one looks at it, 
all else seems little. The edifice is so vast, that one cannot 
hold the image of it in one's soul : in memory we think it 



186 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

smaller, and then return to it again to find it every time 
greater than before. 

Frascati, Xov. 15. 
The company are all in bed, and I am writing with Indian- 
ink, which thev use for drawing. AVe have had two beau- 

tiful days, without rain, warm and genial sunshine : so that 
summer is scarcely missed. The country around is very 
pleasant. The village lies on the side of a hill, or rather of 
a mountain ; and at every step the draughtsman comes upon 
the most glorious objects. The prospect is unbounded. 
Rome lies before 3'ou ; and beyond it. on the right, is the 
sea, the mountains of Tivoli, and so on. In this delight- 
ful region, country houses are built expressly for pleasure ; 
and, as the ancient Romans had here their villas, so, for cen- 
turies past, their rich and haughty successors have planted 
country residences on all the loveliest spots. For two days 
we have been wandering about here, and almost every step 
has brought us upon something new and attractive. 

And yet it is hard to say whether the evenings have not 
passed still more agreeably than the days. As soon as our 
stately hostess has placed on the round table the bronzed 
lamp with its three wicks, and wished us felicissimanotte, 
we all form a circle round it ; and the views are produced 
which have been drawn and sketched during the day. Their 
merits are discussed, opinions are taken whether the objects 
might or not have been taken more favorably, whether their 
true characters have been caught, and whether all requisi- 
tions of a like general nature, which may justly be looked 
for in a first sketch, have been fulfilled. 

Hofrath Reiffenstein, by his judgment and authority, con- 
trives to give order to, and to conduct, these sittings. Bui 
the merit of this delightful arrangement is due to Philipp 
Ilackert, who has a most excellent taste, both in drawing 
and finishing views from nature. Artists and dilettanti. 
men and women, old and young. — he would let no one rest, 
but stimulated every one to make the attempt, :it any rate. 
according to their gifts and powers, and led the way with 
his own good example. The little society thus collected 
and held together. Hofrath Reiffenstein has. after the depart- 
ure of his friend, faithfully kept up; and we nil feel a lau- 
dable desire to awake in every one an active participation. 
The peculiar turn and character of each member of the so- 
ciety are thus shown in a most agreeable way. For instance 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 187 

Tischbein, being an historical painter, views scenery quite 
otherwise than the landscape-painter. He sees significant 
groups, and other graceful speaking objects, where another 
can see nothing : and so he happily contrives to catch up 
many a na'ive trait of humanity, — it may be in children, 
peasants, mendicants, or other such beings of nature, or 
even in animals, which, with a few characteristic touches, he 
skilfully manages to portray, and thereby contributes much 
new and agreeable matter for our discussions. 

When conversation is exhausted, some one also, by Hack- 
ert's direction, reads aloud Sulzer's Theory ; for although, 
from a high point of view, it is impossible to rest contented 
with this work, nevertheless, as some one observed, it is so 
far satisfactory as it is calculated to exercise a favorable 
influence on minds less highly cultivated. 

Rome, Nov. 17, 1786. 

AVe are back again. During the night it rained in tor- 
rents amidst thunder and lightning : it still goes on raining, 
but is very warm withal. 

As regards myself, however, it is only with few w r ords 
that I can indicate the happiness of this day. I have seen 
the frescos of Domenichino, in Andrea della Valle, and also 
the Farnese Gallery of Caraccios. Too much, forsooth, 
for months ! — what, then, for a single day? 

Rome, Nov. 18, 1786. 

It is again beautiful weather, — a bright, genial, warm day. 
I saw in the Farnesine Palace the story of Psyche, colored 
copies of which have so long adorned my room, and then at 
St. Peter's, in Montorio, the Transfiguration by Raphael, — 
all well-known paintings, like friends one has made at a 
distance by means of letters, and sees for the first time face 
to face. To live with them, is, however, something quite 
different. Every genuine friendship and its opposite becomes 
immediately evident. 

Moreover, there arc to be met with in every spot and cor- 
ner glorious things of which less has been said, and which 
have not been scattered over the world by engravings and 
copies. Of these I shall bring away with me many a draw- 
ing from the hands of young but excellent artists. 

The fact that I have long maintained a correspondence 
with Tischbein. and consequently been on the best possible 
terms with him. and that, even when I had no hope of ever 



188 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

visiting Italy, I had communicated to him my wishes, lias 
made our meeting most profitable and delightful. He 1ms 
always been thinking of me, even providing for my wants. 
With the varieties of stone of which all the great edifices, 
whether old or new, are built, he has made himself perfectly 
acquainted. He has thoroughly studied them, and these 
studies have been greatly helped by his artistic eye and the 
artist's pleasure in sensible things. Just before my arrival, 
he sent off to Weimar a collection of specimens which he 
had selected for me, and which I expect will give me a 
friendly welcome on my return. 

An ecclesiastic who is now residing in France, and had 
in contemplation to write a work on the ancient marbles, 
received through the influence of the Propaganda sonic large 
pieces of marble from the Island of Faros. When they 
arrived here, they were cut up for specimens ; and twelve 
different pieces, from the finest to the coarsest grain, were 
reserved for me. Some were of the greatest purity, while 
others are more or less mingled with mica ; the former being 
used for statuary, the latter for architecture. How much 
an accurate knowledge of the material employed in the arts 
must contribute to a right estimate of them, must be obvious 
to every one. 

There are opportunities enough here for my collecting 
many more specimens. In our way to the ruins of Nero's 
Palace, we passed through some artichoke grounds newly 
turned up, and could not resist the temptation to cram our 
pockets full of the granite, porphyry, and marble slabs 
which lie here by thousands, and serve as unfailing wit- 
nesses to the ancient splendor of the walls which were once 
covered with them. 

Rome, Nov. 18, 178G. 

I must now speak of a wonderful problematical picture, 
which, even in the midst of the many gems here, still makes 
a good show of its own. 

For many years there had been residing here a French- 
man, well known as an admirer of the arts, and a collector. 
He had got hold of an antique drawing in chalk, no one 
knows how or whence, lie had it retouched by Mengs, 
and kept it in his collection as a work of very great value. 
Winckelmann somewhere speaks of it with enthusiasm. The 
Frenchman died, and left the picture to his hostess as an 
antique. Mengs, too, died, and declared on his death-bed 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 189 

that it was not an antique, but had been painted by himself. 
And now the whole world is divided in opinion ; some main- 
taining that Mengs had one day, in joke, dashed it off with 
much facility ; others asserting that Mengs could never do 
any thing like it, indeed, that it is almost too beautiful for 
Raphael. I saw it yesterday, and must confess that I do 
not know any thing more beautiful than the figure of Gany- 
mede, especially the head and shoulders: the rest has been 
much renovated. However, the painting is in ill repute, 
and no one will relieve the poor landlady of her treasure. 

Rome, Nov. 20, 1786. 

As experience fully teaches us that there is a general 
pleasure in having poems, whatever may be their subject, 
illustrated with drawings and engravings, nay, that the 
painter himself usually selects a passage of some poet or 
other for the subject of his most elaborate paintings, Tisch- 
bein 's idea is deserving of approbation, that poets and paint- 
ers should work together from the very first in order to 
secure a perfect unity. The difficulty would assuredly be 
greatly lessened, if it were applied to little pieces, such as 
that the whole design would easily admit of being taken in 
at once by the mind, and worked out consistently with the 
original plan. 

Tischbein has suggested for such common labors some 
very delightful idyllic thoughts ; and it is really singular, 
that those he wishes to see executed in this way are really 
such as neither poetry nor painting alone could ever ade- 
quately describe. During our walks together he has talked 
with me about them, in the hopes of gaining me over to his 
views, and getting me to enter upon the plan. The frontis- 
piece for such a joint work is already designed ; and, did I 
not fear to enter upon any new tasks at present, I might 
perhaps be tempted. 

Rome, Nov. 22, 1786. 
The Feast of St. Cecilia. 

The morning of this happy day I must endeavor to per- 
petuate by a few lines, and, at least by description, to impart 
to others what I have myself enjoyed. The weather has 
been beautiful and calm, quite a bright sky, and a warm 
sun. Accompanied by Tischbein, I set off for the Piazza 
of St. Peter's, where we went about, first of all, from one 
part to another ; when it became too hot for that, walked up 
and down in the shade of the great obelisk (which is full 



100 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

wide enough for two abreast), and eating grapes, which we 
purchased in the neighborhood. Then avc entered the Sis- 
tine Chapel, which we found bright and cheerful, and with 
a good light for the pictures. The Last Judgment di- 
vided our admiration with the paintings on the roof by 
Michael Angelo. I could only see and wonder. The men- 
tal confidence and boldness of the master, and his grandeur 
of conception, are beyond all expression. After we had 
looked at all of them over and over again, we left this sacred 
building, and w r ent to St. Peter's, which received from the 
bright heavens the loveliest light possible, and every part of 
it was clearly lighted up. As men willing to be pleased, we 
were delighted with its vastness and splendor, and did not 
allow an over nice or hypercritical taste to mar our pleasure. 
A\ r e suppressed every harsher judgment : we enjoyed the 
enjoyable. 

Lastly we ascended the roof of the church, where one 
finds, in little, the plan of a well-built city, — houses and 
magazines, springs (in appearance, at least), churches, and 
a great temple, all in the air, and beautiful walks between. 
AVe mounted the dome, and saw glistening before us the 
regions of the Apennines, Soracte, and, towards Tivoli, the 
volcanic hills, — Frascati, Castel-gandolfo, and the plains, 
and, beyond all, the sea. Close at our feet lay the whole 
city of Koine in its length and breadth, with its mountain 
palaces, domes, etc. Not a breath of air was moving, and 
in the upper dome it was (as they say) like being in a hot- 
house. When we had looked enough at these things, Ave 
went down, and they opened for us the doors in the cornices 
of the dome, the tympanum, and the nave. There is a pas- 
sage all round, and from above you can take a view of the 
whole church and of its several parts. As we stood on 
the cornices of the tympanum, Ave saAV beneath us the Pope, 
passing to his mid-day devotions. Nothing, therefore, Avas 
wanting to make our vieAv of St. Peter's perfect. AVe at 
last descended to the area, and took, in a neighboring hotel, 
a cheerful but frugal meal, and then set off for St. Cecilia's. 

It would take many Avoids to describe the decorations of 
this church, which Avas crammed full of people. Not a stone 
of the edifice Avas to be seen. The pillars were covered with 
red velvet wound round with gold lace : the capitals were 
overlaid with embroidered velvet, so as to retain somcAvhat 
of the appearance of capitals ; and all the corniees and pil- 
lars were in like manner covered with hangings. All the 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 191 

entablatures of the walls were also covered with life-like 
paintings, so that the whole church seemed to be laid out in 
mosaic. Around in the church, and on the high altar, more 
than two hundred wax tapers were burning. It looked like 
a wall of lights, and the whole nave was perfectly lit up. 
The aisles and side-altars were equally adorned and illumi- 
nated. Right opposite the high altar, and under the organ, 
two scaffolds were erected, which also were covered with 
velvet, on one of which were placed the singers, and on the 
other the instruments, which kept up one unbroken strain of 
music. The church was crammed full. 

I have heard an excellent kind of musical accompaniment. 
Just as there are concerts of violins, or of other instruments, 
so here they had concerts of voices ; so that one voice — the 
soprano, for instance — predominates, and sings solo, while 
from time to time the chorus of other voices falls in, and 
accompanies it, always, of course, with the whole orchestra. 
It has a good effect. I must end, as we, in fact, ended the 
day. In the evening we came upon the opera, where no 
less a piece than "I Litiganti " was then performed; but 
we had all the da} T enjoyed so much of excellence, that 
we passed by the door. 

Rome, Nov. 23, 1786. 

In order that it may not be the same with my clear incog- 
nito as with the ostrich, which thinks itself to be concealed 
when it has hid his head, so, in certain cases, I give it up, 
still maintaining, however, my old thesis. I had, without 
hesitation, paid a visit of compliment to the Prince von 
Lichtenstein, the brother of my much esteemed friend the 
Countess Harrach, and occasionally dined with him; and I 
soon perceived that my good-nature in this instance was 
likely to lead me much farther. They began to feel their 
way, and to talk to me of the Abbe Monti, and of his 
tragedy of " Aristodemus," which is shortly to be brought 
out on the stage. The author, it was said, wished, above all 
things, to read it to me. and to hear my opinion of it. I 
contrived, however, to let the matter drop without positively 
refusing : at last, however, I met the poet and some of his 
friends at the prince's house, and the play was read aloud. 

The hero is, as is well known, the king of Sparta, who, by 
various scruples of conscience, was driven to commit suicide. 
Prettily enough they contrived to intimate to me their hope 
that the author of " Werther " would not take it ill if he 



192 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

found some of the rare passages of his own work made use 
of in this drama. And so, even before the walls of Sparta, 
I cannot escape from this unhappy youth. 

The piece has a very simple and calm movement. The 
sentiments, as well as the language, are well suited to the 
subject, — full of energy, and } T et of tenderness. The work 
is a proof of very fair talents. 

I failed not, according to my fashion (not, indeed, after 
the Italian fashion), to point out, and to dwell upon, all the 
excellencies and merits of the pla}', with which, indeed, all 
present were tolerably satisfied, though still with Southern 
impatience they seemed to require something more. I even 
ventured to predict what effect it was to be hoped the play 
would have from the public. In excuse I pleaded my igno- 
rance of the country, its way of thinking and tastes ; but 
was candid enough to add, that I did not clearly see how, 
with their vitiated taste, the Romans, who were accustomed 
to see as an interlude either a complete comedy of three acts 
or an opera of two, or could not sit out a grand opera with- 
out the intermezzo of wholly foreign ballets, could ever take 
delight in the calm, noble movement of a regular tragedy. 
Then, again, the subject of a suicide seemed to me to be 
altogether out of the pale of an Italian's ideas. That they 
stabbed men to death, I knew by daily report of such events ; 
but that any one should deprive himself of his own precious 
existence, or even hold it possible for another to do so, — of 
that no trace or s} T mptom had ever been brought under my 
notice. 

I then allowed myself to be circumstantially enlightened 
as to all that might be urged in answer to my objections, and 
readily yielded to their plausible arguments. I also assured 
them I wished for nothing so much as to see the play acted, 
and with a band of friends to welcome it with the most 
downright and loudest applause. This assurance was re- 
ceived in the most friendly manner, and I had this time at 
least no cause to be dissatisfied with my compliance; for 
indeed Prince Lichtenstein is politeness itself, and found 
opportunity for my seeing in his company many precious 
works of art, a sight of which is not easily obtained without 
special permission, and for which, consequently, high influ- 
ence is indispensable. On the other hand, my good humor 
failed me when the daughter of the Pretender expressed a 
wish to see the foreign marmoset. I declined the honor, and 
once more completely shrouded myself beneath my disguise. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 193 

But still that is not altogether the right way ; and I here 
feel most vividly what I have often before observed in life, 
that the man who strives after that which is good must be as 
much on the alert and as active with regard to others as the 
selfish, the mean, and the wicked. It is easy to see this, but 
it is extremely difficult to act in the spirit of it. 

Nov. 24, 1786. 

Of the people I can say nothing more than that they are 
fine children of nature, who, amidst pomp and honors of all 
kinds, religion, and the arts, are not one jot different from 
what they would be in caves and forests. What strikes the 
stranger most, and what to-day is making the whole city 
talk, but only talk, is the common occurrence of assassina- 
tion. To-day the victim has been an excellent artist — 
Schwendemann, a Swiss, a medallionist. The particulars of 
his death greatly resemble those of AVindischmann's. The 
assassin with whom he was struggling gave him twenty 
stabs ; and, as the watch came up, the villain stabbed himself. 
This is not generally the fashion here : the murderer usually 
makes for the nearest church ; and once there, he is quite 
safe. 

And now, in order to shade my picture a little, I might 
bring into it crimes and disorders, earthquakes and inunda- 
tions of all kinds, but for an eruption of Vesuvius which 
lias just broken out, and has set almost all the visitors here 
in motion ; and one must, indeed, possess a rare amount of 
self-control, not to be carried away by the crowd. Really 
this phenomenon of nature has in it something of a resem- 
blance to the rattlesnake, for its attraction is irresistible. 
At this moment it almost seems as if all the treasures of art 
in Rome were annihilated : every stranger, without excep- 
tion, has broken off the current of his contemplations, and is 
hurrying to Naples. I, however, shall stay, in the hope that 
the mountain will have a little eruption expressly for my 
amusement. 

Rome, Dor. 1, 1780. 

Moritz is here, who has made himself famous by his 
"Anthony, the Traveller (Anton Reiser), and his iw Wander- 
ings in England" ( Wanderungen nach England). He is a 
right-down excellent man, and we have been greatly pleased 
with him. 



104 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Rome, Dec. 1, 1786. 
Here in Rome, where one sees so many strangers, all of 

whom do not visit this capital of the world merely for the 
sake of the fine arts, but also for amusements of every kind, 
the people are prepared for every thing. Accordingly, they 
have invented and attained great excellence in certain half 
arts which require for their pursuit little more than manual 
skill and pleasure in such handiwork, and which consequently 
attract the interest of ordinary visitors. 

Among these is the art of painting in wax. Requiring 
little more than tolerable skill in water-coloring, it serves as 
an amusement to employ one's time in preparing and adapt- 
ing the wax, and then in burning it, and in such like me- 
chanical labors. Skilful artists give lessons in the art, and, 
under the pretext of showing their pupils how to perform 
their tasks, do the chief part of the work themselves ; so that 
when at last the figure stands out in bright relief in the 
gilded frame, the fair disciple is ravished with the proof of 
her unconscious talent. 

Another pretty occupation is, with a very fine clay to 
take impressions of cameos cut in deep relief. This is also 
done in the case of medallions, both sides of which are thus 
copied at once. More tact, attention, and diligence is re- 
quired, lastly, for preparation of the glass-paste for mock 
jewels. For all these things Hofrath Reiffenstein has the 
necessary workshops and laboratories, either in his house or 
close at hand. 

Dec. 2, 178G. 
I have accidentally found here Anhenholtz's " Italy." A 
work written on the spot, in so contracted and narrow- 
minded a spirit as this, is just as if one were to lay a book 
purposely on the coals in order that it might be browned 
and blackened, and its leaves curled up and disfigured with 
smoke. No doubt he has seen all that he writes about, but 
he possesses far too little of real knowledge to support his 
high pretensions and sneering tone ; and whether he praises 
or blames, he is always in the wrong. 

Dec. 2, 17S(>. 
Such beautiful warm and quiet weather at the end of 
November (which, however, is often broken by a day's rain), 
is quite new to me. We spend the fine days in the open air. 
the bad in our room : everywhere there is something to learn 
and to do, something to be delighted with. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 195 

On the 28th we paid a second visit to the Sistine Chapel, 
and had the galleries opened, in order that we might obtain 
a nearer view of the ceiling. As the galleries are very nar- 
row, it is only with great difficulty that one forces his way 
up them, by means of the iron balustrades. There is an ap- 
pearance of danger about it, on which account those who are 
liable to get dizzy had better not make the attempt : all the 
discomfort, however, is fully compensated by the sight of 
the great masterpiece of art. And at this moment I am so 
taken with Michael Angelo, that after him I have no taste 
even for nature herself ; especially as I am unable to contem- 
plate her with the same eye of genius that he did. Oh, that 
there were only some means of fixing such paintings in my 
soul ! At any rate, I shall bring with me every engraving 
and drawing of his pictures, or drawings after him, that I can 
lay hold of. 

Then we went to the Loggie, painted by Raphael, and 
scarcely dare I say that we could not endure to look at 
them. The eye had been so dilated and spoiled by those 
great forms, and the glorious finish of every part, that it was 
not able to follow the ingenious windings of the Arabesques ; 
and the Scripture histories, however beautiful they were, did 
not stand examination after the former. And yet to see 
these works frequently one after another, and to compare 
them together at leisure, and without prejudice, must be a 
source of great pleasure ; for at first all sympathy is more 
or less exclusive. 

Under a sunshine, if any thing rather too warm, we thence 
proceeded to the Villa Pamphili, whose beautiful gardens are 
much resorted to for amusement ; and there we remained till 
evening. A large, flat meadow, enclosed by long, evergreen 
oaks and loftj* pines, was sown all over with daisies, which 
turned their heads to the sun. I now revived my botanical 
speculations which I had indulged in the other day during a 
walk towards Monte Mario, to the Villa Melini, and the Villa 
Madama. It is very interesting to observe the working of a 
vigorous, unceasing vegetation, which is here unbroken by 
any severe cold. Here there are no buds : one has actually 
to learn what a bud is. The strawberry-tree (arbutus 
unedo) is at this season, for the second time, in blossom, 
while its last fruits are just ripening. So also the orange- 
tree may be seen in flower, and at the same time bearing 
partially and fully ripened fruit. (The latter trees, how- 
ever, if they are not sheltered by standing between build- 



196 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

ings, arc at this season generally covered.) As to the 
cypress, that most " venerable " of trees when it is old and 
well grown, it affords matter enough for thought. As soon 
as possible I shall pay a visit to the Botanical Gardens, and 
hope to add there much to my experience. Generally, there 
is nothing to be compared with the new life which the sight 
of a new country affords to a thoughtful person. Although 
I am still the same being, I yet think I am changed to the 
very marrow. 

For the present I conclude, and shall perhaps fill the next 
sheet with murders, disorders, earthquakes, and troubles, 
in order that at any rate my pictures may not be without 
shades. 

Rome, Dec. 3, 1786. 

The weather lately has changed almost every six days. 
Two days quite glorious, then a doubtful one, and after it 
two or three rainy ones, and then again fine weather. I 
endeavor to put each day, according to its nature, to the 
best use. 

And yet these glorious objects are even still like new 
acquaintances to me. One has not yet lived with them, nor 
got familiar with their peculiarities. Some of them attract 
us with irresistible power, so that for a time we feel indif- 
ferent, if not unjust, to all others. Thus, for instance, the 
Pantheon, the Apollo Belvedere, some colossal heads, and 
very recently the Sistine Chapel, have by turns so won my 
whole heart, that I scarcely saw any thing besides them. 
But, in truth, can man, little as man always is, and accus- 
tomed to littleness, ever make himself equal to all that here 
surrounds him of what is noble, vast, and refined? Even 
though he should in any degree adapt himself to it, then how 
vast is the multitude of objects that immediately press upon 
him from all sides, and meet him at every turn, of which 
each demands for itself the tribute of his whole attention. 
How is one to get out of the difficult}'? No other way 
assuredly than by patiently allowing it to work, becoming 
industrious, and attending the while to all that others have 
accomplished for our benefit. 

Winckelmann's " History of Art," translated by Rea (the 
new edition), is a very useful book, which I have just pro- 
cured, and here on the spot find it to be highly profitable, as 
I have around me many kind friends, willing to explain and 
to comment upon it. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 197 

Roman antiquities also begin to have a charm for me. 
History, inscriptions, coins (of which formerly I knew 
nothing), all are pressing upon me. As I fared with nat- 
ural history, so I do here also ; for the history of the whole 
world attaches itself to this spot, and I reckon a new birth- 
day, — a true new birth from the day I entered Rome. 

Dec. 5, 1780. 
During the few weeks that I have been here, I have already 
seen many strangers come and go, so that I have often 
wondered at the levity with which so many treat these pre- 
cious monuments. God be thanked that hereafter none of 
those birds of passage will be able to impose upon me. 
When, in the North, they shall speak to me of Rome, none of 
them now will be able to excite my spleen ; for I also have 
seen it, and know too, in some degree, where I have been. 

Dec. 8, 178G. 

We have, every now and then, the most beautiful days. 
The rain which falls from time to time has made the grass 
and garden-stuffs quite verdant. Evergreens, too, are to be 
seen here at different spots, so that one scarcely misses the 
fallen leaves of the forest trees. In the gardens you may 
see orange-trees full of fruit, left in the open ground and not 
under cover. 

I had intended to give you a particular account of a very 
pleasant trip which we took to the sea, and of our fishing-ex- 
ploits ; but in the evening poor Moritz, as he was riding 
home, broke his arm, his horse having slipped *on the smooth 
Roman pavement. This marred all our pleasure, and has 
plunged our little domestic circle in sad affliction. 

Dec. 13, 178G. 

I am heartily delighted that you have taken my sudden 
disappearance just as I wished you should. Pray appease 
for me every one that may have taken offence at it. I never 
wished to give any one pain, and even now I cannot say any 
thing to excuse myself. God keep me from ever afflicting 
my friends with the premises which led me to this resolution. 

Here I am gradually recovering from my " salto mortale," 
and studying rather than enjoying. Rome is a world, and 
one must spend years before one can become at all acquainted 
with it. How happy do I consider those travellers who can 
take a look at it and go their way ! 



198 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Yesterday man}' of Winckelmann's letters which he wrote 
from Italy fell into my hands. With what emotions I began 
to read them ! About this same season, some one and thirty 
years ago, he came hither a still poorer simpleton than I : 
but then he had such thorough German enthusiasm for all 
that is sterling and genuine, either in antiquity or art. How 
bravely and diligently he worked his way through all dif- 
ficulties ; and what good it does me, — the remembrance of 
such a man in such a place ! 

After the objects of Nature, who in all her parts is true to 
herself, and consistent, nothing speaks so loudly as the re- 
membrance of a good, intelligent man, — that genuine art 
which is no less consistent and harmonious than herself. 
Here in Rome we feel this right well, where so many an arbi- 
trary caprice has had its day, where so many a folly has 
immortalized itself by its power and its gold. 

The following passage in Winckelmann's letters to Fran- 
conia particularly pleased me. " We must look at all the 
objects in Rome with a certain degree of phlegm, or else one 
will be taken for a Frenchman. In Rome, I believe, is the 
high school for all the world ; and I also have been purified 
and tried in it." 

This remark applies directly to my mode of visiting the 
different objects here ; and most certain is it, that out of 
Rome no one can have an idea how one is schooled in Rome. 
One must, so to speak, be new born ; and one looks back on 
his earlier notions as a man does on the little shoes which 
fitted him when a child. The most ordinary man learns 
something here : at least he gains one uncommon idea, even 
though it never should pass into his whole being. 

This letter will reach you in the new year. All good 
wishes for the beginning : before the end of it we shall meet 
again, and that will be no little gratification. The one that 
is passing away has been the most important of my life. I 
may now die, or I may tarry a little longer yet : in either 
case it was well. And now a word or two more for the 
little ones. 

To the children you may either read or tell what follows. 
Here there are no signs of winter : the gardens are planted 
with evergreens ; the sun shines bright and warm ; snow is 
nowhere to be seen, except on the most distant hills towards 
the north. The citron-trees, which are planted against the 
garden walls, are now, one after another, covered with reeds ; 
but the oranges are allowed to stand quite open. Many 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 109 

hundreds of the finest fruits may be seen hanging on a single 
tree ; which is not, as with us, dwarfed, and planted in a 
bucket, but stands in the earth, free and joyous, amidst a long 
line of brothers. The oranges are even now very good, but 
it is thought they will be still finer. 

We were lately at the sea, and had a haul of fish, and 
drew to the light, fishes, crabs, and rare univalves of the 
most wonderful shapes conceivable ; also the fish which gives 
an electric shock to all who touch it. 

Rome, Dec. 20, 178fi. 

And yet, after all, it is more trouble and care than enjoy- 
ment. The Regenerator, which is changing me within and 
without, continues to work. I certainly thought that I had 
something really to learn here ; but that I should have to 
take so low a place in the school, that I must forget so much 
that I had learned, or rather absolutely unlearn so much, — of 
that I had never the least idea. Now, however, that I am 
once convinced of its necessity, I have devoted myself to the 
task ; and the more I am obliged to renounce my former self, 
the more delighted I am. I am like an architect who has 
begun to build a tower, but finds he has laid a bad founda- 
tion : he becomes aware of the fact betimes, and willingly 
goes to work to pull down all that he has raised above the 
earth ; having done so, he proceeds to enlarge his ground 
plan, and now rejoices to anticipate the undoubted stability 
of his future building. Heaven grant, that, on my return, 
the moral conseqences may be discernible of all that this 
living in a wider world has effected within me ! For, in 
sooth, the moral sense as well as the artistic is undergoing 
a great change. 

Dr. Munter is here on his return from his tour in Sicily, — 
an energetic, vehement man. What objects he may have, I 
cannot tell. He will reach you in May, and has much to tell 
you. lie has been travelling in Italy two years. He is dis- 
gust ed with the Italians, who have not paid due respect to 
the weighty letters of recommendation which were to have 
opened to him many an archive, many a private library ; so 
that he is far from having accomplished his object. 

He has collected some beautiful coins, and possesses, he 
tells me, a manuscript which reduces numismatics to as pre- 
cise a system of characteristics as the Linnaean system of 
botany. Herder, Ik; says, knows still more about it: proba- 
bly a transcript of it will be permitted. To do something of 



200 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

the kind is certainly possible ; and, if well done, it will be 
truly valuable : and we must, sooner or later, enter seriously 
into this branch of learning. 

Rome, Dec. 25, 178G. 

I am now beginning to revisit the principal sights of 
Rome : in such second views, our first amazement generally 
dies away into more of sympathy and a purer perception 
of the true value of the objects. In order to form an idea of 
the highest achievements of the human mind, the soul must 
first attain to perfect freedom from prejudice and preposses- 
sion. 

Marble is a rare material. It is on this account that the 
Apollo Belvedere in the original is so infinitely ravishing ; 
for that sublime air of youthful freedom and vigor, of never- 
changing juvenescence, which breathes around the marble, 
at once vanishes in the best even of plaster casts. 

In the Palace Rondanini, which is right opposite our lodg- 
ings, there is a Medusa-mask, above the size of life, in which 
the attempt to portray a lofty and beautiful countenance in 
the numbing agony of death has been indescribably success- 
ful. I possess an excellent cast of it, but the charm of 
the marble remains not. The noble semi-transparency of the 
yellow stone — approaching almost to the hue of flesh — is 
vanished. Compared with it, plaster of Paris has a chalky 
and dead look. 

And yet how delightful it is to go to a modeller in gyp- 
sum, and to see the noble limbs of a statue come out one by 
one from the mould, and thereby to acquire wholly new ideas 
of their shapes. And then, again, by such means all that in 
Rome is scattered, is brought together, for the purpose of 
comparison ; and this alone is of inestimable service. Ac- 
cordingly, I could not resist the temptation to procure a cast 
of the colossal head of Jupiter. It stands right opposite 
my bed, in a good light, in order that I may address my 
morning devotions to it. With all its grandeur and dignity, 
it lias, however, given rise to one of the funniest interludes 
possible. 

Our old hostess, when she comes to make my bed, is gen- 
erally followed by her pet cat. Yesterday 1 was sitting in 
the great hall, and could hear the old woman pursue her 
avocation within. On a sudden, in great haste, and with an 
excitement quite unusual to her, she opened the door, and 
called to me to come quickly and see a wonder. To my 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 201 

question, what was the matter, she replied the cat was say- 
ing its prayers. Of the animal she had long observed, she 
told me, that it had as much sense as a Christian ; but this 
was really a great wonder. I hastened to see it with my own 
eyes; and it was, indeed, strange enough. The bust stood 
on a high pedestal, and, as there was a good length of the 
shoulders, the head stood high. Now, the cat had sprung 
upon the table, and had placed her fore-feet on the breast of 
the god, and, stretching her bod}' to its utmost length, just 
reached with her muzzle his sacred beard, which she was 
licking most ceremoniously ; and neither by the exclamation 
of the hostess, nor my entrance into the room, was she at 
all disturbed. T left the good dame to her astonishment ; 
and she afterwards accounted for puss's strange act of devo- 
tion by supposing that this sharp-nosed cat had caught scent 
of the grease which had probably been transferred from the 
mould to the deep lines of the beard, and had remained 
there. 

Dec. 29, 1786. 

Of Tischbein I have much to sa}' and to boast. In the 
first place, a thorough and original German, he has made 
himself entirely what he is. In the next place, I must make 
grateful mention of the friendly attentions he has shown me 
throughout the time of his second stay in Rome. For he 
has had prepared for me a series of copies after the best 
masters, — some in black chalk, others in sepia and water- 
colors, — which in Germany, when I shall be at a distance 
from the originals, will grow in value, and will serve to 
remind me of all that is rarest and best. 

At the commencement of his career as an artist, when lie 
set up as a portrait-painter, Tischbein came in contact, espe- 
cially in Munich, with distinguished personages, and in his 
intercourse with them strengthened his artistic feeling and 
enlarged his views. 

The second part of the " Zerxtreute Blatter" (stray leaves) 
I have brought with me hither, and they are doubly welcome. 
What good influence this little book has had on me, even on 
the second perusal, Herder, for his reward, shall be circum- 
stantially informed. Tischbein cannot conceive how any 
thing so excellent could ever have been written by one who 
has never been in Italy 



202 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Dec. 20, 1786. 

Ill this world of artists one lives, as it were, in a mirrored 
chamber, where, without wishing it, one sees his own image 
and those of others continually multiplied. Latterly I have 
often observed Tischbein attentively regarding me ; and now 
it appears that he has long cherished the idea of painting 
my portrait. His design is already settled, and the canvas 
stretched. I am to be drawn of the size of life, enveloped in 
a white mantle, and sitting on a fallen obelisk, viewing the 
ruins of the Campagna di Roma, which are to fill up the 
background of the picture. It will form a beautiful piece, 
only it will be rather too large for our northern habitations. 
I. indeed, may again crawl into them, but the portrait will 
never be able to enter their doors. 

I cannot help observing the great efforts that are con- 
stant^ being made to draw me from my retirement, — how 
the poets either read or get their pieces read to me ; and I 
should be blind did I not see that it depends only on myself 
whether I shall play a part or not. All this is amusing 
enough ; for I have long since measured the lengths to which 
one may go in Rome. The many little coteries here at the 
feet of the mistress of the world strongly remind one occa- 
sionally of an ordinary country town. 

In sooth, things here are much like what they are eveiT- 
where else ; and what could be done with me and through me 
causes me ennui long before it is accomplished. Here you 
must take up with one party or another, and help them to 
carry on their feuds and cabals ; and you must praise these 
artists and those dilettanti, disparage their rivals, and, above 
all, be pleased witli every tiling that the rich and great do. 
All these little meannesses, then, for the sake of which one 
is almost ready to leave the world itself, — must I here mix 
myself up with them, and that, too. when I have neither 
interest nor stake in them? No : I shall go no farther than 
is merely necessary to know what is going on, and thus to 
learn, in private, to be more contented with my lot, and to 
stifle the desire, in myself and others, of going out into the 
dear wide world. I wish to see Rome in its abiding and 
permanent features, and not as it passes and changes with 
every ten years. Had I time, I might wish to employ it bet- 
ter. Above all, one may study history here quite differently 
from what one can on any other spot. In other places one 
lias, as it were, to read one's self into it from without; here 
one fancies that he reads from within outwards : all arranges 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 203 

itself around you, and seems to proceed from you. And this 
holds good, not only of Roman histoiw, but also of that of 
the whole world. From Rome I can accompany the con- 
querors on their march to the Weser or to the Euphrates ; 
or, if I wish to be a sight-seer, T can wait in the Via Sacra 
for the triumphant generals, and in the meantime receive for 
my support the largesses of corn and money, and so take a 
very comfortable share in all the splendor. 

Rome, Jan. 2, 1787. 

Men may say what they will in favor of a written and 
oral communication : it is only in a veiy few cases indeed tha,. 
it is at all adequate ; for it never can convey the true char- 
acter of any object soever, — no, not even of a purely intel- 
lectual one. But if one has already enjoyed a sure and 
steady view of the object, then one may profitably hear or 
read about it ; for then there exists a living impression 
around which all else may arrange itself in the mind, and 
then one can think and judge. 

You have often laughed at me, and wished to drive me 
away from the peculiar taste I had for examining stones, 
plants, or animals, from certain theoretical points of view : 
now, however, I am directing my attention to architects, 
statuaries, and painters, and hope to find myself learning 
something even from them. 

Rome, Jan. 4, 1787. 

After all this, I must further speak to you of the state of 
indecision in which I am with regard to my stay in Italy. 
In my last letter I wrote to you that it was my purpose to 
leave Rome immediately after Easter, and gradually return 
home. Until then I shall yet gather a few more shells from 
the shore of the great ocean, and so my most urgent needs 
will have been appeased. I am now cured of a violent pas- 
sion and disease, and restored to the enjoyment of life, to 
the enjoyment of history, poetry, and of antiquities, and 
have treasures which it will take me many a long } T ear to 
polish and to finish. 

Recently, however, friendly voices have reached me to the 
effect that I ought not to be in a hurry, but to wait till I can 
return home with still richer gains. From the Duke, too, I 
have received a very kind and considerate letter, in which he 
excuses me from my duties for an indefinite period, and sets 
me quite at ease with respect to my absence. My mind, 



204 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

therefore, turns to the vast field which I must otherwise have 
left untrodden. For instance, in the ease of coins and cam- 
eos, I have as yet been able to do nothing. I have, indeed, 
begun to read Winckelmann's u History of Art, " but have 
passed over Egypt: for I feel, once again, that I must look 
out before me ; and I have done so with regard to Egyptian 
matters. The more we look, the more distant becomes the 
horizon of art ; and he who would step surely must step 
slowly. 

I intend to stay here till the Carnival; and, in the first 
week of Lent, shall set off for Naples, taking Tischbein with 
me, both because it will be a treat to him, and because, in 
his society, all my enjo} T ments are more than doubled. I 
purpose to return hither before Easter, for the sake of the 
solemnities of Passion AVeek. But there Sicily lies — there 
below. A journey thither requires more preparation, and 
ought to be taken, too, in the autumn. It must not be 
merely a ride round it and across it, which is soon done, but 
from which we bring awa}~ with us, in return for our fatigue 
and money, nothing but a simple, / have seen it: the best 
w 7 a}' is to take up one's quarters, first of all, in Palermo, and 
afterwards in Catania ; and then, from those points, to make 
fixed and profitable excursions, having previously, however, 
well studied Riedesel and others on the locality. 

If, then, I spend the summer in Rome, I shall set to work 
to study, and to prepare myself for visiting Sicily. As I 
cannot very well go there before November, and must stay 
there till over December, it will be the spring of 1788 before 
I can hope to get home again. Then, again, I have had 
before ni} T mind a medius terminus. Giving up the idea of 
visiting Sicily, I have thought of spending a part of the 
summer at Rome, and then, after paying a second visit to 
Florence, getting home by the autumn. 

But all these plans have been much perplexed by the news 
of the Duke's misfortune. Since receiving the letters which 
informed me of this event I have had no rest, and would like 
most to set off at Easter, laden with the fragments of my 
conquests, and, passing quickly through L T pper Italy, be in 
Weimar again by June. 

I am too much alone here to decide ; and .1 write you this 
long story of my whole position, that you may be good 
enough to summon a council of those who love me, and who, 
being on the spot, know the circumstances better than I. 
Let them, therefore, determine the proper course for me to 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 205 

take, on the supposition of what, I assure you, is the fact, 
that I am myself more disposed to return than to stay. The 
strongest tie that holds me in Italy is Tischbein. I should 
never, even should it be my happy lot to return a second 
time to this beautiful land, learn so much in so short a time 
as I have now done in the society of this well-educated, 
highly refined, and most upright man, who is devoted to me, 
both body and soul. I cannot now tell you how the scales 
are gradually falling from off my eyes. He who travels by 
night takes the dawn for day, and a murky day for bright- 
ness : what will it be when the sun rises? Moreover, I have 
hitherto kept myself from all the world, which yet is getting 
hold of me by degrees, and which I, for my part, was not 
unwilling to watch and observe with stealthy glances. 

I have written to Fritz a joking account of my reception 
into the Arcadia; and indeed it is only a subject of joke, 
for the Institute is really sunk into miserable insignificance. 

Next Monday week Monti's tragedy is to be acted. He is 
extremely anxious, and not without cause. He has a very 
troublesome public, which requires to be amused from 
moment to moment ; and his play has no brilliant passages 
in it. He has asked me to go with him to his box, and 
stand by him as confessor in this critical moment. Another 
is ready to translate my " Iphigenia ; " another, to do I 
know not what, in honor of me. They are all so divided 
into parties, and so bitter against each other. But my 
countrymen are so unanimous in my favor, that if I gave 
them any encouragement, and yielded to them in the very 
least, they would try a hundred follies with me, and end 
with crowning me on the Capitol, of which the}* have already 
seriously thought — so foolish is it to have a stranger and a 
Protestant to play the first part in a comedy. What con- 
nection there is in all this, and how great a fool I was to 
think that it was all intended for my honor, — of all this we 
will talk together one day. 

Jan. f>, 1787. 
I have just come from Moritz, whose arm is healed, and 
loosed from its bandage's. It is well set, linn, and he can 
move it quite freely. What during these last forty days I 
have experienced and learned, as nurse, confessor, and pri- 
vate secretary, to this patient, may prove of benefit to us 
hereafter. The most painful sufferings and the noblest en- 
joyments went side by side throughout this whole period. 



206 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

To refresh me, I yesterday had set up in our sitting-room 
a east of a eolossal head of Juno, of which the original is in 
the Villa Ludovisi. This was my first love in Rome, and 
now I have gained the object of my wishes. No words can 
give the remotest idea of it. It is like one of Homer's songs. 

I have, however, deserved the neighborhood of such good 
society for the future ; for I can now tell you that Iphigenia 
is at last finished, i.e., that it lies before me on the table 
in two tolerably concordant copies, of which one will very 
soon begin its pilgrimage to you. Receive it with all indul- 
gence ; for, to speak the truth, what stands on the paper is 
not exactly what I intended, but still it will convey an idea 
of what was in my mind. 

You complain occasionally of some obscure passages in 
my letters, which allude to the oppression, which I suffer in 
the midst of the most glorious objects in the world. With 
all this, my fellow-traveller — this Grecian princess — has 
had a great deal to do ; for she has kept me close at work 
when I wished to be seeins; sights. 

I often think of our worthy friend, who had long deter- 
mined upon a grand tour which one might well term a 
voyage of discovery. After he had studied and economized 
several years with a view to this object, he took it in his 
head to carry off the daughter of a noble house, thinking it 
was all one. 

With no less of criminality, I determined to take Iphigenia 
with me to Carslbad. I will now briefl}' enumerate the 
places where I held special converse with her. 

When I had left behind me the Brenner, I took her out of 
my large portmanteau, and placed her by my side. At the 
Lago di Garda, while the strong south wind drove the waves 
on the beach, and where I was at least as much alone as my 
heroine on the coast of Tauris, I drew the first outlines, 
which afterwards I filled up at Verona, Vicenza, and Padua, 
but above all, and most diligently, at Venice. After this, 
however, the work came to a stand-still ; for I hit upon a new 
design, viz., of writing an Iphigenia at Delphi, which I 
should have immediately carried into execution, but for the 
distractions of my 3 T oung, and for a feeling of duty towards 
the older, play. 

In Rome, however, I went on with it. and proceeded with 
tolerable steadiness. Every evening before I went to sleep 
I prepared myself for my morning's task, which was resumed 
immediately I awoke. My way of proceeding was quite 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 207 

simple : I calmly wrote clown the play, and tried the melody 
line by line, and period by period. What has been thus pro- 
duced, you shall soon judge of. For my part, doing this 
work. I have learnt more than I have done. With the play 
itself there shall follow some further remarks. 

To speak again of church matters, I must tell you that on 
the night of Christmas Day we wandered about in troops, 
and visited all the churches where solemn services were being 
performed. One especially was visited, because of its organ 
and music : the latter was so arranged, that in its tones 
nothing belonging to pastoral music was wanting, — neither 
the singing of the shepherds, nor the twittering of birds, nor 
the bleating of sheep. 

On Christmas Day I saw the Pope and the whole consistory 
in St. Peter's, where he celebrated high mass, partly before 
and partly from his throne. It is of its kind an unequalled 
sight, splendid and dignified enough; but I have grown so 
old in my Protestant Diogenism, that this pomp and 
splendor revolt me more than they attract me. I, like my 
pious forefathers, am disposed to say to these spiritual con- 
querors of the world, "Hide not from me the sun of higher 
art and purer humanity. " 

Yesterda}', which was the Feast of Epiphany, I saw and 
heard mass celebrated after the Greek rite. The ceremonies 
appeared to me more solemn, more severe, more suggestive, 
and yet more popular, than the Latin. 

But rliere, too, I also felt again that I am too old for any 
thing, except for truth alone. Their ceremonies and operatic 
music, their gyrations and ballet-like movements — it all 
passes off from me like water from an oilskin cloak. A 
work of nature, however, like that of a sunset seen from the 
Villa Madonna, — a work of art, like my much honored Juno, 
— makes a deep and vivid impression on me. 

And now I must ask you to congratulate me with regard 
to theatrical matters. Next week seven theatres will be 
opened. Anfossi himself is here, and will act "Alexander 
in India. " A Cyrus also will be represented, and the 
4 'Taking of Troy" as a ballet. That assuredly must be 
something for the children ! 

Rome, Jan. 10, 1787. 
Here, then, comes the "child of sorrows ; " for this sur- 
name is due to " Iphigenia " in more than one sense. On 



208 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

the occasion of my reading it to our artists, I put a mark 
against several lines, some of which I have in my opinion 
improved, but others I have allowed to stand — perhaps 
Herder will cross a few of them with his pen. 

The true cause of my having for many years preferred 
prose for my works, is the great uncertainty in which our 
prosody fluctuates, in consequence of which many of my 
judicious learned friends and fellow artists have left many 
things to taste, — a course, however, which was little favora- 
ble to the establishing of any certain standard. 

I should never have attempted to translate " Iphigenia " 
into iambics, had not Moritz's prosody shone upon me like a 
star of light. My conversation with its author, especially 
during his confinement from his accident, has still more en- 
lightened me on the subject ; and I would recommend my 
friends to think favorably of it. 

It is somewhat singular, that in our language we have but 
very few r syllables which are decidedly long or short. With 
all the others, one proceeds as taste or caprice may dictate. 
Now, Moritz, after much thought, has hit upon the idea that 
there is a certain order of rank among our syllables, and that 
the one which in sense is more emphatic is long as compared 
with the less significant, and makes the latter short ; but, on 
the other hand, it does in its turn become short whenever it 
comes into the neighborhood of another which possesses 
greater weight and emphasis than itself. Here, then, is at 
least a rule to go by ; and even though it does not decide the 
whole matter, still it opens out a path by which one may 
hope to get a little farther. I have often allowed m} T self to 
be influenced by these rules, and generally have found my 
ear agreeing with them. 

As I formerly spoke of a public reading, I must quietly 
tell you how it passed off. These } T oung men, accustomed to 
those earlier vehement and impetuous pieces, expected some- 
thing after the fashion of Berlichingen, and could not so 
well make out the calm movement of u Iphigenia ; " and } T et 
the nobler and purer passages did not fail of effect. Tisch- 
bein, who also could hardly reconcile himself to this entire 
absence of passion, produced a pretty illustration or symbol 
of the work. He illustrated it by a sacrifice, of which the 
smoke, borne down by a light breeze, descends to the earth, 
while the freer flame strives to ascend on high. The draw- 
ing was very pretty and significant. I have the sketch still 
by me. And thus the work, which I thought to despatch iu 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 209 

no time, has employed, hindered, occupied, and tortured me 
a full quarter of a 3 T ear. This is not the first time that I 
have made an important task a mere by-work ; but we will 
on that subject no longer indulge in fancies and disputes. 

I enclose a beautiful cameo, — a lion, with a gad-fly buzz- 
ing at his nose. This seems to have been a favorite subject 
with the ancients, for they have repeated it very often. I 
should like you, from this time forward, to seal your letters 
with it, in order that through this (little) trifle an echo of art 
ma}*, as it were, reverberate from you to me. 

Rome, Jan. 13, 1787. 

How much I have to say each day, and how sadly I am 
prevented, either by amusement or occupation, from commit- 
ting to paper a single sage remark ! And then again, the 
fine days, when it is better to be anywhere than in the rooms, 
which, without stove or chimney, receive us only to sleep 
or to discomfort ! Some of the incidents of the last week, 
however, must not be left unrecorded. 

In the Palace Giustiniani there is a Minerva, which claims 
my undivided homage. Winckelmann scarcely mentions it, 
and, at any rate, not in the right place ; and I feel myself 
quite unworthy to say any thing about it. As we contem- 
plated the image, and stood gazing at it a long time, the 
wife of the keeper of the collection said, "This must have 
once been a holy image ; and the English, who happen to be 
of this religion, are still accustomed to pay worship to it by 
kissing this hand of it" (which in truth was quite white, 
while the rest of the statue was brownish). She further 
told us that a lady of this religion had been there not long 
before, and, throwing herself on her knees before the statue, 
had regularly offered prayer to it ; and I, she said, as a Chris- 
tian, could not help smiling at so strange an action, and was 
obliged to run out of the room, lest I should burst out into a 
loud laugh before her face. As I was unwilling to move 
from the statue, she asked me if my beloved was at all like 
the statue, that it charmed me so much. The good dame 
knew of nothing besides devotion or love ; but of the pure 
admiration for a glorious piece of man's handiwork, of a 
mere sympathetic veneration for the creation of the human 
intellect, she could form no idea. We rejoiced in that noble 
English woman, and went away with a longing to turn our 
steps back again ; and I shall certainly soon go once more 
thither. If my friends wish for a more particular descrip- 



210 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

tion, let them read what Winckelmann says of the high style 
of art among the Greeks: unfortunately, however, lie does 
not adduce this Minerva as an illustration. But, if I do not 
greatly err, it is, nevertheless, of this high and severe style, 
since it passes into the beautiful. It is, as it were, a bud 
that opens, and so a Minerva, whose character this idea 
of transition so well suits. 

Now for a spectacle of a different kind. On the Feast of 
the Three Kings, or the Commemoration of Christ's Mani- 
festation to the Gentiles, we paid a visit to the Propaganda. 
There, in the presence of three cardinals and a large audi- 
ence, an essay was first of all delivered, which treated of the 
place in which the Virgin Mary received the three Magi, — 
in the stable; or, if not, where? Next, some Latin verses 
were read on similar subjects ; and after this a series of about 
thirty scholars came forward, one by one, and read a little 
piece of poetry in their native tongues, — Malabar, Epirotic, 
Turkish, Moldavian, Hellenic, Persian, Colchian, Hebrew, 
Arabic, Syrian, Coptic, Saracenic, Armenian, Erse, Mada- 
gassic, Icelandic, Bohemian, Greek, Isaurian, ^Ethiopic, etc. 
The poems seemed for the most part to be composed in the 
national syllabic measure, and to be delivered with the ver- 
nacular declamation, for most barbaric rhythms and tones 
occurred. Among them, the Greek sounded like a star in 
the night. The audience laughed most unmercifully at the 
strange sounds ; and so this representation also became a 
farce. 

And now (before concluding) a little anecdote, to show 
with what levity holy things are treated in Holy Pome : The 
deceased cardinal, Albani, w r as once present at one of those 
festal meetings which I have just been describing. One of 
the scholars, with his face turned towards the cardinals, 
began, in a strange pronunciation, Gnaja! Gnaja! so that 
it sounded something like canaglia ! canaglia! The cardinal 
turned to his brothers, with a whisper, ''He knows us, at 
any rate." 

How much has Winckelmann done ! and yet how much 
reason has he left us to wish that he had done still more ! 
With the materials which he had collected he built quickly, 
in order to reach the roof. Were he still living, he would 
be the first to give us a recast of his great work. What 
further observations, what corrections, he would have made! 
to what good use he would have put all that others, follow- 
ing his own principles, have observed and effected ! And, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 211 

besides. Cardinal Albani is dead, out of respect to whom he 
has written much, and perhaps concealed much. 

Jan. 15, 1787. 

And so, then, " Aristodemo " has at last been acted, and 
with good success, too, and the greatest applause : as the 
Abbate Monti is related to the house of the Nepote, and 
highly esteemed among the higher orders, from these, there- 
fore, all was to be hoped for. The boxes, indeed, were but 
sparing in their plaudits. As for the pit, it was won, from 
the very first, by the beautiful language of the poet and the 
appropriate recitation of the actors ; and it omitted no oppor- 
tunity of testifying its approbation. The bench of the Ger- 
man artists distinguished themselves not a little ; and this 
time no fault can be found with them, considering they are 
at all times a little overloud. 

The author himself remained at home, full of anxiety 
for the success of the play. From act to act, favorable des- 
patches arrived, which changed his fear into the greatest joy. 
Now there is no lack of repetitions of the representation, 
and all is on the best track. Thus, by the most opposite 
things, if only each has the merit it claims, the favor of the 
multitude, as well as of the connoisseur, may be won. 

But the acting was in the highest degree meritorious ; and 
the chief actor, who appears throughout the play, spoke and 
acted cleverly : one might have fancied he saw one of the 
ancient Caesars come on the stage. They had, very judi- 
ciously, transferred to their stage dresses the costume which 
in the statue strikes the spectator as so dignified ; and one 
saw at once that the actor had studied the antique. 

Jan. 18, 1787. 

Rome is threatened witli a great artistic loss. The king 
of Naples has ordered the Hercules Farnese to be brought to 
his palace. The news has made all the artists quite sad. 
However, on this occasion we shall see something which was 
hidden from our forefathers. 

The aforesaid statue, namely, from the head to the knee, 
and afterwards the lower part of the feet, together with the 
Bockle on which it stood, were found within the Farnesian 
domain : but the legs, from the knee to the ankle, were want- 
ing, and had been supplied by Giuglielmo Porta; on these it 
had stood since its discovery to the present day. In the 



212 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

mean time, however, the genuine old legs were found in the 
lands of the Borghesi. and were to be seen in their villa. 

Recently, however, the Prince Borghese has achieved a 
victory over himself, and has made a present of these costly 
relics to the king of Naples. They are removing Porta 's 
legs, and replacing them by the genuine ones : and every one 
is promising himself — however well contented he has been 
hitherto with the old — quite a new treat and a more har- 
monious enjoyment. 

Rome, Jan. 18, 1787. 

Yesterday, which was the Festival of the Holy Abbot St. 
Anthony, we had a merry day. The weather was the finest 
in the world : though there had been a hard frost during the 
night, the da}' was bright and warm. 

One ma} T remark, that all religions which enlarge their 
worship or their speculations must at last come to this, — of 
making the brute creation in some degree partakers of spir- 
itual favors. St. Anthony — abbot or bishop — is the pat- 
ron saint of all four-footed creatures : his festival is a kind 
of Saturnalian holiday for the otherwise oppressed beasts, 
and also for their keepers and drivers. All the gentry must 
on this day either remain at home, or else be content to 
travel on foot. And there are no lack of fearful stories, 
which tell how unbelieving masters, who forced their coach- 
men to drive them on this day, were punished by suffering 
great calamities. 

The church of the saint lies in so wide and open a dis- 
trict, that it might almost be called a desert. On this day. 
however, it is full of life and fun. Horses and mules, with 
their manes and tails prettily, not to say gorgeously, decked 
out with" ribbons, are brought before the chapel (which stands 
at some distance from the church), where a priest, armed 
with a brush, and not sparing of the holy water, which 
stands before him in buckets and tubs, goes on sprinkling 
the lively creatures, and often plays them a roguish trick, in 
order to make them start and frisk, Pious coachmen offer 
their wax-tapers, of larger or smaller size. The masters send 
alms and presents, in order that the valuable and useful ani- 
mals may go safely through the coming year without hurt or 
accidents. The donkeys and horned cattle, no less valuable 
and useful to their owners, have, likewise, their modest share 
in this blessing. 

Afterwards we delighted ourselves with a long walk under 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 213 

a delicious sky, and surrounded by the most interesting ob- 
jects, to which, however, we this time paid very little atten- 
tion, but gave full scope and rein to joke and merriment. 

Rome, Jan. 19, 1787. 

So, then, the great king, whose glory filled the world, 
whose deeds make him worthy of even the Papists' paradise, 
has gone at last from this life, to converse with heroes like 
himself in the realm of shades. How disposed one feels to 
be still after bringing the like of him to his rest. 

This has been a very good day. First of all, we visited a 
part of the Capitol which we had preA r iously neglected ; 
then we crossed the Tiber, and drank some Spanish wine on 
board a ship which had just come into port. It was on this 
spot that Romulus and Remus are said to have been found. 
Thus keeping, as it were, a double or treble festival, we rev- 
elled in the inspiration of art, of a mild atmosphere, and of 
antiquarian reminiscences. 

Jan. 20, 1787. 

What at first furnishes a hearty enjoyment, when we take 
it superficially only, often weighs on us afterwards most 
oppressively, when we see that, without solid knowledge, 
the true delight must be missed. 

As regards anatomy, I am pretty well prepared : and 1 
have, not without some labor, gained a tolerable knowledge 
of the human frame ; for the continual examination of the 
ancient statues is continually stimulating one to a more per- 
fect understanding of it. In our medico-chirurgical anat- 
omy, little more is in view than an acquaintance with the 
several parts ; and, for this purpose, the sorriest picture of 
the muscles may serve very well : but in Rome the most 
exquisite parts would not even be noticed, unless as helping 
to make a noble and beautiful form. 

In the great Lazaretto of San Spirito, there has been pre- 
pared, for the use of the artists, a very fine anatomical 
figure, displaying the whole muscular system. Its beauty is 
really amazing. It might pass for some flayed demigod, — 
even a Marsyas. 

Thus, after the example of the ancients, men here study 
the human skeleton, not merely as an artistically arranged 
scries of bones, but rather for the sake of the ligaments with 
which life and motion are carried on. 

When now 1 tell you that in the evening we also study per- 



214 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

spective, it must be pretty plain to you that we are not idle. 
With all our studies, however, we are always hoping to do 
more than we ever accomplish. 

Rome, Jan. 22, 1787. 

Of the artistic sense of Germans, and of their artistic 
life, — of these one may well say, One hears sounds, but they 
are not in unison. When now I bethink myself what glori- 
ous objects are in my neighborhood, and how little I have 
profited by them, I am almost tempted to despair; but then, 
again, I console myself with my promised return, when I 
hope to be able to understand these masterpieces, around 
which now I go groping miserably in the dark. 

But, in fact, even in Rome itself, there is but little pro- 
vision made for one who earnestly wishes to study art as a 
whole. He must patch it up and put it together for himself 
out of endless, but still gorgeously rich, ruins. No doubt 
but few of those who visit Rome are purely and earnestly 
desirous to see and to learn things rightly and thoroughly. 
They all follow, more or less, their own fancies and conceits ; 
and this is observed by all alike who attend upon the stran- 
gers. Every guide has his own object, every one has his 
own dealer to recommend, his own artist to favor ; and why 
should he not? for does not the inexperienced at once prize 
as most excellent whatever ma}' be presented to him as 
such. 

It would have been a great benefit to the study of art — 
indeed a peculiarly rich museum might have been formed — 
if the government (whose permission even at present must 
be obtained before any piece of antiquity can be removed 
from the city) had on such occasions invariably insisted on 
casts of the objects removed being delivered to it. Besides, 
if any pope had established such a rule, before long every 
one would have opposed all further removals ; for in a few 
years people would have been frightened at the number and 
value of the treasures thus carried off, — to do which, there 
is a way of obtaining permission secretly, on some occasions, 
and by all manner of means. 

Jan. 22, 1787. 

The representation of the " Aristodemo" has stimulated, 

in an especial degree, the patriotism of our German artists. 

which before was far from being asleep. They never omit 

an occasion to speak well of my " Iphigenia." Some pas- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 215 

sages have from time to time been again called for, and I 
have found myself at last compelled to a second reading of 
the whole. And thus also I have discovered many passages 
which went off the tongue more smoothly than they look on 
the paper. 

The favorable report of it has at last sounded even in the 
ears of Reiffenstein and Angelica, who entreated that I 
should produce my work once more for their gratification. 
I begged, however, for a brief respite ; though I was obliged 
to describe to them, somewhat circumstantially, the plan and 
movement of the plot. The description won the approbation 
of these personages more even than I could have hoped for ; 
and Signor Zucchi also, of whom I least of all expected it, 
evinced a warm and liberal sympathy with the play. The 
latter circumstance, however, is easily accounted for by the 
fact that the drama approximates very closely to the old 
and customary form of Greek, French, and Italian tragedy, 
which is most agreeable to every one whose taste has not 
been spoilt by the temerities of the English stage. 

Rome, Jan. 25, 1787. 

It becomes every day more difficult to fix the termination 
of my stay in Rome : just as one finds the sea continually 
deeper the farther one sails on it, so it is also with the 
examination of this city. 

It is impossible to understand the present without a knowl- 
edge of the past ; and to compare the two, requires both time 
and leisure. The very site of the city carries us back to 
the time of its being founded. We see at once that no great 
people, under a wise leader, settled here from its wanderings, 
and with wise forecast laid the foundations of the seat of 
future empire. No powerful prince would ever have selected 
this spot as well suited for the habitation of a colony. No ! 
herdsmen and vagabonds first prepared here a dwelling for 
themselves : a couple of adventurous youths laid the founda- 
tion of the palaces of the masters of the world on the hill at 
the foot of which, amidst the marshes and reeds, they had 
defied the officers of law and justice. Moreover, the seven 
lulls of Rome are not elevations above the land which lies 
beyond them, but merely above the Tiber and its ancient 
bed, which afterwards became the Campus Martius. If the 
coming spring is favorable to my making wider excursions 
in the neighborhood, I shall be able to describe more fully 
the unfavorable site. Even now 1 feel the most heartfelt 



216 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

sympathy with the grief and lamentation of the women of 
Alba when they saw their city destroyed, and were forced to 
leave its beautiful site, the choice of a wise prince and leader, 
to share the fogs of the Tiber, and to people the miserable 
Coelian Hill, from which their e} T es still viewed the paradise 
they had quitted. 

I know as yet but little of the neighborhood, but I am 
perfectly convinced that no city of the ancient world was so 
badly situated as Rome. No wonder, then, that the Romans, 
as soon as they had swallowed up all the neighboring states, 
went out of it, and, with their villas, returned to the noble 
sites of the cities they had destroyed, in order to live and to 
enjoy life. 

It suggests a very pleasing contemplation to think how 
many people are living here in retirement, calmly occupied 
with their several tastes and pursuits. In the house of a 
clergyman, who, without any particular natural talent, has 
nevertheless devoted himself to the arts, we saw most inter- 
esting copies of some excellent paintings which he had im- 
itated in miniature. His most successful attempt was after 
the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci. The moment of 
time is when the Lord, who is sitting familiarly at supper 
with his disciples, utters the awful words, " One of you 
shall betray me." 

Hopes are entertained that he will allow an engraving to 
be taken, either of this, or of another copy on which he is at 
present engaged. It will be indeed a rich present to give to 
the great public a faithful imitation of this gem of art. 

A few days since I visited, at the Trinita de' Monti, 
Father Jacquier, a Franciscan. He is a Frenchman by 
birth, and well known by his mathematical writings; and 
although far advanced in years, is still very agreeable and 
intelligent. He has been acquainted with all the most dis- 
tinguished men of his day ; and has even spent several 
months with Voltaire, who had a great liking for him. 

I have also become acquainted with many more of such 
good, sterling men, of whom countless numbers are to be 
found here, whom, however, a sort of professional mistrust 
keeps estranged from each other. The book-trade furnishes 
no point of union, and literary novelties are seldom fruitful ; 
and so it befits the solitary to seek out the hermits. For 
since the acting of wt Aristodemo," in whose favor we made 
a very lively demonstration, I have been again much sought 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 217 

after, but it was quite clear I was not sought for my own 
sake : it was always with a view to strengthen a party, to 
use me as an instrument ; and if I had been willing to come 
forward and declare my side, I also, as a phantom, should 
for a time have played a short part. But now, since they 
see that nothing is to be made of me, they let me pass ; and 
so I go steadily on my own way. 

Indeed, my existence has lately taken in some ballast, 
which gives it the necessary gravity. I do not now frighten 
myself with the spectres which used so often to play before 
my eyes. Be, therefore, of good heart. You will keep me 
above water, and draw me back again to you. 

Rome, Jan. 28, 1787. 

Two considerations which more or less affect every thing, 
and to which one is compelled at every moment to give way, 
I must not fail to set down, now that they have become quite 
clear to me. 

First of all, then, the vast and yet merely fragmentary 
riches*of this city, and each single object of art, are constantly 
suggesting the question, To what date does it owe its exist- 
ence? Winckelmann urgently calls upon us to separate 
epochs, to distinguish the different styles which the several 
masters employed, and the way in which, in the course of 
time, they gradually perfected, and at last corrupted them 
again. Of the necessity of so doing, every real friend of 
art is soon thoroughly convinced. We all acknowledge the 
justice and importance of the requisition. But now how to 
attain to this conviction ? However clearly and correctly the 
notion itself may be conceived, yet without long prepara- 
tory labors there will always be a degree of vagueness and 
obscurity as to the particular application. A sure eye, 
strengthened by many years' exercise, is above all else ne- 
cessary. Here hesitation or reserve are of no avail. Atten- 
tion, however, is now directed to this point ; and every one 
who is in any degree in earnest seems convinced that in this 
domain a sure judgment is impossible, unless it has been 
formed by historical study, 

The second consideration refers exclusively to the arts of 
the Greeks, and endeavors to ascertain how those inimitable 
artists proceeded in their successful attempts to evolve from 
the human form their system of divine types, which is so 
perfect and complete, that neither any leading character nor 
any intermediate shade or transition is wanting. For my 



218 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

part. I cannot withhold the conjecture that they proceeded 
according to the same laws by which Nature works, and 
which I am endeavoring to discover. Only, there is in them 
something else, which I know not how to express. 

Rome, Feb. 2, 1787. 
Of the beauty of a walk through Rome by moonlight it is 
impossible to form a conception, without having witnessed 
it. All single objects are swallowed up by the great masses 
of light and shade, and nothing but grand and general out- 
lines present themselves to the eye. For three several days 
we have enjoyed to the full the brightest and most glorious 
of nights, Peculiarly beautiful, at such a time, is the Coli- 
seum. At night it is always closed. A hermit dwells in a 
little shrine within its range, and beggars of all kinds nestle 
beneath its crumbling arches : the latter had lit a fire on the 
arena, and a gentle wind bore down the smoke to the ground, 
so that the lower portion of the ruins was quite hid by it ; 
while, above, the vast walls stood out in deeper darkness 
before the eye. As we stopped at the gate to contemplate 
the scene through the iron gratings, the moon shone brightly 
in the heavens above. Presently the smoke found its way 
up the sides, and through every chink and opening, while 
the moon lit it up like a cloud. The sight was exceedingly 
glorious. In such a light one ought also to see the Pan- 
theon, the Capitol, the Portico of St. Peter's, and the grand 
streets and squares. And thus sun and moon, as well 
as the human mind, have here to do a work quite different 
from what they produce elsewhere, — here where vast and 
yet elegant masses present themselves to their rays. 

Rome, Fob. 13, 1787. 
I must mention a trifling fall of luck, even though it is but 
a little one. However, all luck, whether great or little, is of 
one kind, and always brings a joy with it. Near the Trinita 
de' Monti, the ground lias been lately dug up to form a 
foundation for the new Obelisk; and now the whole of this 
region is choked up with the ruins of the Gardens of Lucullus, 
which subsequently became the property of the emperors. 
My perruquier was passing early one morning by the spot. 
and found in the pile of earth a Hat piece of burnt clay with 
some figures on it. Having washed it. he showed it to me. 
I eagerly secured the treasure. It is not quite a span long. 
and seems to have been part of the stem of a great key. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 219' 

Two old men stand before an altar: they are of the most 
beautiful workmanship, and I am uncommonly delighted 
with my new acquisition. Were they on a cameo, one would 
greatly like to use it as a seal. 

I have by me a collection also of many other objects ; and 
none is worthless or unmeaning, — for that is impossible : 
here every thing is instructive and significant. But my dear- 
est treasure, however, is even that which I carry with me in 
my soul, and which, ever growing, is capable of a still 
greater growth. 

Rome, Feb. 15, 1787. 

Before departing for Naples, I could not get off from 
another public reading of my u Iphigenia." Madam Angelica 
and Ilofrath Reiffenstein were the auditory ; and even Signor 
Zucchi had solicited to be present, because it was the wish 
of his wife. During the reading, however, he worked away 
at a great architectural plan ; for he is very skilful in exe- 
cuting drawings of this kind, and especially the decorative 
parts. lie went with Clerisseau to Dalmatia, and was the 
associate of all his labors, drawing the buildings and ruins for 
the plates which the latter published. In this occupation 
ho learned so much of perspective and effect, that in his old 
days he is able to amuse himself on paper in a very rational 
manner. 

The tender soul of Angelica listened to the piece with 
incredible profoundness of sympathy. She promised me a 
drawing of one of the scenes, which I am to keep in remem- 
brance of her. And now, just as I am about to quit Rome, 
I begin to feel nryself tenderly attached to these kind-hearted 
people. It is a source of mingled feelings of pleasure and 
regret to know that people are sorry to part with you. 

Rome, Feb. 16, 1787. 
The safe arrival of "Iphigenia" has been announced to 
me in a most cheering and agreeable way. On my way 
to the opera, a letter from a well-known hand was brought to 
me, and was this time doubly welcome, having been sealed 
with the " Lion," — a premonitory token of the safe arrival 
of my packet. I Lurried into the opera-house, and bustled to 
get a place among the strange faces beneath the great chan- 
delier. At this moment I felt myself drawn so close to my 
friends, that 1 could almost have sprung forward to embrace 
them. From my heart I thank you even for having simply 



220 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

mentioned the arrival of the " Ephigenia." May your next 
!)/• accompanied with a few kind words of approval ! 

Enclosed is the list of those among whom I wish the copies 
I am to expect from Gosche to be distributed; for although 
it is with me a perfect matter of indifference how the public 
may receive these matters, still I hope by them to furnish 
some gratification to my friends at least. 

One undertakes too much. When I think of my last four 
volumes together, I become almost giddy : I am obliged to 
take them up separately, and then the fit passes off. 

I should, perhaps, have done better had I kept my first 
resolution to send these things, one by one, into the world. 
and so undertake with fresh vigor and courage the new sub- 
jects which have most recently awakened my sympathy. 
Should I not, perhaps, do better were I to write the *• Iphi- 
genia at Delphi." instead of amusing m}'self with my fanci- 
ful sketches of " Tasso." However, I have bestowed upon 
the latter too much of my thoughts to give it up, and let it 
fall to the ground. 

I am sitting in the ante-room, near the chimney : and the 
warmth of a fire, for once well fed, gives me courage to 
commence a fresh sheet; for it is indeed a glorious thing to 
be able with our newest thoughts to reach into the distance, 
and by words to convey thither an idea of our immediate 
state and circumstances. The weather is right glorious, the 
days are sensibly lengthening, the laurels and box are in 
blossom, as also are the almond-trees. Early this morning 
I was delighted with a strange sight : I saw in the distance 
tall, pole-like trees, covered over and over with the loveliest 
violet tiowers. On a closer examination I found it was the 
plant known in our hot-houses as the Judas-tree, and to 
botanists as the cere is siliquastrum. Its papilionaceous 
violet blossoms are produced directly from out of the stem. 
The stakes which I saw had been lopped last winter, and 
out of their bark well shaped and deeply tinted tiowers were 
bursting by thousands. The daisies are also springing out 
of the ground as thick as ants: the crocus and the pheas- 
ant' s-eye are more rare, but even on this account more rich 
and ornamental. 

What pleasures and what lessons the more southern land 
will impart to me, and what new results will arise to me 
from them ! With the tilings of nature it is as with those 
of art: much as is written about them, every one who sees 
them forms them into new combinations for himself. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 221 

When I think of Naples, and indeed of Sicily ; when I 
read their history, or look at views of them, — it strikes me 
as singular that it should be even in these paradises of the 
world that the volcanic mountains manifest themselves so 
violently, for thousands of years alarming and confounding 
their inhabitants. 

But I willingly drive out of my head the expectation of 
these much-prized scenes, in order that they may not lessen 
my enjoyment of the capital of the whole world before I 
leave it. 

For the last fourteen days I have been moving about from 
morning to night. I am raking up eveiy thing I have not yet 
seen. I am also viewing, for a second or even for a third 
time, all the most important objects : and they are all arran- 
ging themselves in tolerable order within my mind ; for while 
the chief objects are taking their right places, there is space 
and room between them for many a less important one. My 
enthusiasm is purifying itself, and becoming more decided ; 
and now. at last, my mind can rise to the height of the 
greatest and purest creations of art with calm admiration. 

In my situation one is tempted to envy the artist, who, by 
copies and imitations of some kind or other, can, as it were, 
come near to those great conceptions, and grasp them better 
than one who merely looks at and reflects upon them. In 
the end, however, every one feels he must do his best; and 
so I set all the sails of my intellect, in the hope of getting 
round this coast. 

The stove is at present thoroughly warm, and piled up 
with excellent coals, which is seldom the case with us, as no 
one scarcely has time or inclination to attend to the fire two 
whole hours together. I will, therefore, avail myself of this 
agreeable temperature to rescue from my tablets a few notes 
which are almost obliterated. 

On the 2d of February we attended the ceremony of 
blessing the tapers in the Sistine Chapel. I was in any thing 
but :i good humor, and shortly went off again with my 
friends : for I thought to myself, those are the very candles, 
which, for these three hundred years, have been dimming 
those noble paintings ; and it is their smoke, which, with 
priestly impudence, not merely hangs in clouds around the 
only sun of art, but from year to year obscures it more and 
more, and will at Last envelop it in total darkness. 

We then sought the open air, and after a long walk came 
upon St. Onofrio's, in a corner of which Tasso is buried. In 



222 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

the library of the monastery, there is a bust of him : the face 
is of wax, and I please myself with fancying that it was 
taken after death. Although the lines have lost some of their 
sharpness, and it is in some parts injured, still, on the whole, 
it serves better than any other I have yet seen to convey an 
idea of a talented, sensitive, and refined but reserved char- 
acter. 

So much for this time. I must now turn to glorious 
Volckmann's second part, which contains Rome, and which I 
have not yet seen. Before I start for Naples, the harvest 
must be housed : good days are coming for binding the 
sheaves. 

Rome, Feb. 17, 1787. 

The weather is incredibly and inexpressibly beautiful. For 
the whole of February, with the exception of four rainy 
days, a pure bright sky, and the days towards noon almost 
too warm ! One is tempted out into the open air ; and if. till 
lately, one spent all his time in the city among gods and 
heroes, the country has now all at once resumed its rights, 
and one can scarcely tear one's self from the surrounding 
scenes, lit up as they are with the most glorious days. 
Many a time does the remembrance come across me, how 
our northern artists labor to gain a charm from thatched 
roofs and ruined towers, — how they turn round and round 
every bush and bourn, and crumbling rock, in the hope of 
catching some picturesque effect ; and I have been quite sur- 
prised at myself, when I find these things from habit still 
retaining a hold upon me. Be this as it may, however, with- 
in this last fortnight I have plucked up a little courage, and, 
sketch-book in hand, have wandered up and down the hollows 
and heights of the neighboring villas, and, without much 
consideration, have sketched off a few little objects char- 
acteristically southern and Roman, and am now trying (if 
good luck will come to my aid) to give them the requisite 
lights and shades. 

It is a singular fact, that it is eas}- enough to clearly see 
and to acknowledge what is good and better, but that when 
one attempts to make them his own, and to grasp them, 
somehow or other they slip away, as it were, from between 
one's fingers ; and we apprehend them, not by the standard 
of the true and right, but in accordance with our previous 
habits of thought and tastes. It is only by constant prac- 
tice that we can hope to improve ; but where am 1 to find 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 223 

time and a collection of models? Still, I do feel myself a 
little improved by the sincere and earnest efforts of the last 
fortnight. 

The artists are ready enough with their hints and instruc- 
tions, for I am quick in apprehending them. But then the 
lesson so quickly learnt and understood, is not so easily put 
in practice. To apprehend quickly is, forsooth, the attribute 
of the mind ; but correctly to execute that, requires the prac- 
tice of a life. 

And yet the amateur, however weak may be his efforts at 
imitation, need not be discouraged. The few lines which I 
scratch upon the paper, often hastily, seldom correctly facili- 
tate any conception of sensible objects ; for one advances 
to an idea more surely and more steadily, the more accur- 
ately and precisely he considers individual objects. 

Only it will not do to measure one's self with artists : every 
one must go on in his own style. For nature has made 
provision for all her children : the meanest is not hindered 
in its existence, even by that of the most excellent. "A 
little man is still a man ; " and with this remark we will let 
the matter drop. 

I have seen the sea twice, — first the Adriatic, then the 
Mediterranean, — but only just to look at it. In Naples we 
hope to become better acquainted with it. All within me 
seems suddenly to urge me on : why not sooner — why not 
at a less sacrifice? How many thousand things, some quite 
new, and from the beginning, I could still communicate ! 

Rome, Feb. 17, 1787. 
Evening after the follies of the Carnival. 

I am sorry to go away and leave Moritz alone. He is going 
on well ; but when he is left to himself, he immediately shuts 
himself up and is lost to the world. I have therefore ex- 
horted him to write to Herder : the letter is enclosed. I 
should wish for an answer which may be serviceable and 
helpful to him. He is a strange good fellow : he would have 
been far more so. had he occasionally met with a friend sen- 
sible and affectionate enough to enlighten him as to his true 
state. At present he could not form an acquaintance likely 
to be more blessed to him than Herder's, if permitted fre- 
quently to write to him. He is at this moment engaged on a 
very laudable antiquarian attempt, which well deserves to be 
encouraged. Friend Herder could scarcely bestow his cares 
better, nor sow his good advice on more grateful soil. 



224 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

The great portrait of myself which Tischbein has taken in 
hand begins already to stand out from the canvas. The 
painter has employed a clever statuary to make him a little 
model in clay, which is elegantly draped with the mantle. 
With this he is working away diligently ; for it must, he says, 
be brought to a certain point before we set out for Naples, 
and it takes no little time merely to cover so large a field of 
canvas with colors. 



Rome, Feb. 10, 1787. 

The weather continues to be finer than words can express. 
This has been a day miserably wasted among fools. At 
night-fall I betook nryself to the Villa Medici. A new moon 
has just shone upon us, and below the slender crescent I 
could with the naked eye discern almost the whole of the 
dark disc through the perspective. Over the earth hangs 
that haze of the day which the paintings of Claude have ren- 
dered so well known. In Nature, however, the phenomenon 
is perhaps nowhere so beautiful as it is here. Flowers are 
now springing out of the earth, and the trees putting forth 
blossoms which hitherto I have been unacquainted with. The 
almonds are in blossom, and between the dark green oaks 
they make an appearance as beautiful as it is new to me. 
The sk} T is like a bright blue taffeta in the sunshine : what 
will it be in Naples? Almost every thing here is already 
green. My botanical whims gam food and strength from all 
around ; and I am on the way to discover new and beautiful 
connections by means of which Nature — that vast prodigy 
which } T et is nowhere visible — evolves the most manifold 
varieties out of the most simple. 

Vesuvius is throwing out both ashes and stones : in the 
evening its summit appears to glow. May travailing Nature" 
only favor us with a stream of lava ! I can scarcely endure 
to wait till it shall be really my lot to witness such grand 
phenomena. 

Rome, Feb. 21,1787. 
Ash Wednesday. 

The foil}' is now at an end. The countless lights of yes- 
te relay evening were, however, a strange spectacle. One must 
have seen the Carnival in Rome to get entirely rid of the wish 
to see it again. Nothing can be written of it : as a subject of 
conversation it may be amusing enough. The most unpleas- 
ant feeling about it is, that real internal joy is wanting. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 225 

There is a lack of money, which prevents their enjoying what 
morsel of pleasure they might otherwise still feel in it. The 
great are economical, and hold back ; those of the middle 
ranks are without the means ; and the populace without 
spring or elasticity. In the last days there was an incredible 
tumult, but no heartfelt J03'. The sky, so infinitely fine and 
clear, looked down nobly and innocently upon the mumme- 
ries. 

However, as imitation is out of the question, and cannot 
be thought of here, I send you, to amuse the children, some 
drawings of carnival masks, and some ancient Roman cos- 
tumes, which are also colored, as they may serve to supply a 
missing chapter in the " Orbis Pictus." 

Rome, Feb. 21, 1787. 

I snatch a few moments in the intervals of packing, to 
mention some particulars which I have hitherto omitted. 
To-morrow we set off for Naples. I am already delighting 
myself with the new scenery, which I promise myself will be 
inexpressibly beautiful, and hope, in this paradise of nature, 
to win fresh freedom and pleasure for the study of ancient 
art on my return to sober Rome. 

Packing up is light work to me ; since I can now do it with 
a merrier heart than I had some six months ago, when I had 
to tear myself from all that was most dear and precious to 
me. Yes, it is now full six months since ; and of the four 
months I have spent in Rome, not a moment has been lost. 
The boost may sound big: nevertheless, it does not say 
too much. 

That tw Iphigenia" has arrived, I know. May I learn, at 
the foot of Vesuvius, that it has met with a hearty welcome ! 

That Tisohbein, who possesses as glorious an eye for na- 
ture as for art, is to accompany me on this journey, is to 
me the subject of great congratulation : still, as genuine 
Germans, we cannot throw aside all purposes and thoughts 
of work. We have bought the best drawing-paper, and 
intend to sketch away; although, in all probability, the 
multitude, the beauty, and the splendor of the objects, will 
choke our good intentions. 

One conquest I have gained over myself. Of all my 
unfinished poetical works, I shall take witli me none but the 
"Tasso," of which I have the best hopes. If 1 could only 
knowwhal you are now saying to" Iphigenia," your remarks. 
might be some guide to me in my present labors ; for the plan 



226 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

of "Tasso" is very similar, the subject still more confined, 
and in its several parts will be even still more elaborately 
finished. Still, I cannot tell as yet what it will eventually 
prove. What already exists of it must be destroyed. It 
is, perhaps, somewhat tediously drawn out ; and neither the 
characters nor the plot, nor the tone of it, are at all in har- 
mony with my present views. 

In making- a clearance I have fallen upon some of your 
letters ; and, in reading them over, I have just lighted upon a 
reproach, that in my letters I contradict myself. It may be 
so, but I was not aware of it ; for, as soon as I have written 
a letter, I immediately send it off. I must, however, confess 
that nothing seems to me more likely, for I have lately been 
tossed about by mighty spirits ; and, therefore, it is quite 
natural if at times I know not where I am standing. 

A story is told of a skipper, who, overtaken at sea by a 
stormy night, determined to steer for port. His little boy. 
who in the dark was crouching by him, asked him, "What 
silly light is that which I see, — at one time above us. and at 
another below us ? " His father promised to explain it to 
him some other day ; and then he told him that it was the 
beacon of the lighthouse, which to the eye, now raised, now 
depressed, by the wild waves, appeared accordingly, some- 
times above, and sometimes below. I, too, am steering on a 
passion-tossed sea for the harbor ; and if I can only manage 
to hold steadily in my e}*e the gleam of the beacon, however 
it may seem to change its place, I shall at last enjoy the 
wished-for shore. 

When one is on the eve of a departure, every earlier sepa- 
ration, and also that last one of all, and which is yet to be, 
comes involuntarily into one's thoughts ; and so. on this 
occasion, the reflection enforces itself on my mind more 
strongly than ever, that man is always making far too great 
and too many preparations for life. Thus we — Tischbein 
and I, that is — must soon turn our backs upon many a pre- 
cious and glorious object, and even upon our well-furnished 
museum. In it there are now standing three Junos for com- 
parison, side by side ; and yet we part from them as though 
they were not. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 227 

NAPLES. 

Velletri, Feb. 22, 1787. 

We arrived here in good time. The day before yesterday 
the weather became gloomy, and our fine days were over- 
cast : still, some signs of the air seemed to promise that it 
would soon clear up again ; and so, indeed, it turned out. 
The clouds gradually broke ; here and there appeared the 
blue sky ; and at last the sun shone full on our journey. We 
came through Albano, after having stopped before Genzano, 
at the entrance of a park, which the owner, Prince Chigi, in 
a very strange way holds, but does not keep up, on which 
account he will not allow any one to enter it. In it a true 
wilderness has been formed. Trees and shrubs, plants and 
weeds, grow, wither, fall, and rot at pleasure. That is all 
light, and, indeed, could not be better. The expanse before 
the entrance is inexpressibly fine. A high wall encloses the 
valley ; a lattice gate affords a view into it ; then the hill 
ascends, upon which, above you, stands the castle. 

But now I dare not attempt to go on with the description ; 
and I can merely say, that at the very moment when from 
the summit we caught sight of the mountains of Sezza, the 
Pontine Marshes, the sea and its islands, a heavy passing 
shower was traversing the Marshes towards the sea ; and the 
light and shade, constantly changing and moving, wonder- 
fully enlivened and variegated the dreary plain. The effect 
was beautifully heightened by the sun's beams, which lit up 
with various hues the columns of smoke as they ascended 
from scattered and scarcely visible cottages. 

Velletri is agreeably situated on a volcanic hill, which 
towards the north alone is connected with other hills, and 
towards three points of the heavens commands a wide and 
uninterrupted prospect, 

We here visited the cabinet of the Cavaliere Borgia, who, 
favored by his relationship with the cardinal, has managed, 
by means of the Propaganda, to collect some valuable an- 
tiquities and other curiosities — Egyptian charms; idols cut 
out of the hardest rock ; some small figures in metal, of ear- 
lier or later dates ; some pieces of statuary of burnt clay, 
witli figures in low relief, which were dug up in the neighbor- 
hood, and on the authority of which, one is almost tempted 
to ascribe to the ancient indigenous population a style of 
their own in art. 



228 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Of other kinds of varieties, there are numerous specimens 
in this museum. I noticed two Chinese black-painted boxes : 
on the sides of one, there was delineated the whole manage- 
ment of the silk-worm, and on the other the cultivation of 

rice. Both subjects were very nicely conceived, and worked 
out with the utmost minuteness. Both the boxes and their 
covers are eminently beautiful, and, as well as the book in 
the library of the Propaganda, which I have already praised, 
are well worth seeing. 

It is certainly inexplicable that these treasures should be 
within so short a distance of Rome, and } T et not be more 
frequently visited ; but perhaps the difficulty and inconven- 
ience of getting to these regions, and the attraction of the 
magic circle of Rome, may serve to excuse the fact. As we 
arrived at the inn, some women, who were sitting before the 
doors of their houses, called out to us, and asked if we wished 
to buy any antiquities ; and then, as we showed a pretty 
strong hankering after them, they brought out some old ket- 
tles, fire-tongs, and such like utensils, and were ready to die 
with laughing at having made fools of us. When we seemed 
a little put out, out* guide assured us, to our comfort, that it 
was a customary joke, and that all strangers had to submit 
to it. 

I am writing this in very miserable quarters, and feel 
neither strength nor humor to make it any longer : therefore, 
I bid you a very good night. 

Foxdi, Feb. 23, 1787. 
AVe were on the road very early, — by three in the morn- 
ing. As the day broke, we found ourselves on the Pontine 
Marshes, which have not by any means so ill an appearance 
as the common description in Rome would make out. Of 
course, by merely passing once over the Marshes, it is not 
possible to judge of so great an undertaking as that of 
the intended draining of them, which necessarily requires 
time to test its merits: still, it does appear to me that the 
works, which have been commenced by the Pope's orders, 
will, to a great extent at least, attain the desired end. 
Conceive to }'ourself a wide valley, which, as it stretches 
from north to south, lias but a very slight fall, but which. 
towards the east and the mountains, is extremely low, but 
rises again considerably towards the sea on the west. Run- 
ning in a straight line through the whole Length of it. the 
ancient Via Appia has been restored. On the right of the 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 229 

latter the principal drain has been cut, and in it the water 
flows with a rapid fall. By means of it the tract of land to 
the right has been drained, and is now profitably cultivated. 
As far as the eye can see, it is either already brought into 
cultivation, or evidently might be so if farmers could be 
found to take it, with the exception of one spot which lies 
extremely low. 

The left side, which stretches towards the mountains, is 
more difficult to be managed. Here, however, cross-drains 
pass under the raised way into the chief drain : as, however, 
the surface sinks again towards the mountains, it is impossi- 
ble by this means to cany off the water entirely. To meet 
this difficulty, it is proposed, I was told, to cut another lead- 
ing drain along the foot of the mountains. Large patches, 
especially towards Terracina, are thinly planted with wil- 
lows and poplars. 

The posting-stations consist merely of long thatched sheds. 
Tischbein sketched one of them, and enjoyed for his reward 
a gratification which only he could enjoy. A white horse 
having broken loose, had fled to the drained lands. Enjoy- 
ing its liberty, it was galloping up and down on the brown 
turf like a flash of lightning. In truth, it was a glorious 
sight, rendered significant by Tischbein's rapture. 

At the point where the ancient village of Meza once stood, 
the Pope has caused to be built a large and fine building, 
which indicates the centre of the level. The sight of it in- 
creases one's hopes and confidence of the success of the 
whole undertaking. AVTiile thus we travelled on, we kept up 
a lively conversation together, not forgetting the warning, 
that on this journey one must not go to sleep ; and, in fact, 
we were strongly enough reminded of the danger of the 
atmosphere, by the blue vapor which, even in this season 
of the year, hangs above the ground. On this account the 
more delightful, as it was the more longed for, was the rocky 
site of Terracina ; and scarcely had we congratulated our- 
selves at the sight of it, than we caught a view of the sea 
beyond. Immediately afterwards the other side of the moun- 
tain city presented to our eye a vegetation quite new to ns. 
The Indian figs were pushing their large fleshy leaves amidst 
the gray green of dwarf myrtles, the yellowish green of the 
pomegranate, and the pale green of the olive. As we passed 
along, we -noticed some flowers and shrubs such as we had 
never seen before. On the meadows the narcissus and the 
adonis were in flower. For a long time the sea was on our 



230 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

right, while close to us on the left ran an unbroken range 
of limestone rocks. It is a continuation of the Apennines, 
running clown from Tivoli and touching the sea. which thev 
do not leave again till you reach the Campagna di Roinana, 

where it is succeeded by the volcanic formations of Frescati, 
Alba, and Velletri, and lastly by the Pontine Marshes. 
Monte Circello, with the opposite promontory of Terracina, 
where the Pontine Marshes terminate, probably consists also 
of a system of chalk rocks. 

We left the seacoast, and soon reached the charming plain 
of Fondi. Every one must admire this little spot of fertile 
and well cultivated land, enclosed with hills, which them- 
selves are by no means wild. Oranges in great numbers 
are still hanging on the trees ; the crops, all of wheat, are 
beautifully green ; olives are growing in the fields ; and the 
little city is in the bottom. A palm-tree, which stood out a 
marked object in the scenery, received our greetings. So 
much for this evening. Pardon the scrawl. I must write 
without thinking, for writing's sake. The objects are too 
numerous, my resting-place too wretched, and yet my desire 
to commit something to paper too great. With nightfall we 
reached this place, and it is now time to go to rest. 

S. Aoata. Feb. 24, 1787. 

Although in a wretchedly cold chamber, I must yet try and 
give you some account of a beautiful day. It was already 
nearly light when we drove out of Fondi, and we were forth- 
with greeted by the orange-trees which hang over the walls 
on both sides of our road. The trees are loaded with such 
numbers as can only be imagined, and not expressed. 
Towards the top the young leaf is yellowish, but below, and 
in the middle, of sappy green. Mignon was quite right to 
long for them. 

After this we travelled through clean and well- worked 
fields of wheat, planted at convenient distances with olive- 
trees. A soft breeze was moving, and brought to the light 
the silvery under-surfaee of the leaves, as the branches 
swayed gently and elegantly. It was a gray morning : a north 
wind promised soon to dispel all the clouds. 

Then the road entered a valley between stony but well- 
dressed fields, — the crops of the most beautiful green. At 
Certain spots one saw some roomy places, paved, and sur- 
rounded with low walls : on these the corn, which is never 
carried home in sheaves, is thrashed out at once. The val- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 231 

ley gradually narrows, and the road becomes mountainous, 
bare rocks of limestone standing on both sides of us. A 
violent storm followed us, with a fall of sleet, which thawed 
very slowly. 

The walls, of an ancient style, built after the pattern of 
net-work, charmed us exceedingly. On the heights the soil 
is rock}', but nevertheless planted with olive-trees wherever 
there is the smallest patch of soil to receive them. Next we 
drove over a plain covered with olive-trees, and then through 
a small town. We here noticed altars, ancient tomb-stones, 
and fragments of every kind, built up in the walls of the 
pleasure-houses in the gardens ; then the lower stories of 
ancient villas, once excellently built, but now filled up with 
earth, and overgrown with olives. At last we caught a sight 
of Vesuvius, with a cloud of smoke resting on its brow. 

Molo di Gaeta greeted us again with the richest of orange- 
trees : we remained there some hours. The creek before the 
town, which the tide flows up to, affords one of the finest 
views. Following the line of coast on the right, till the eye 
leaches at last the horn of the crescent, one sees at a mod- 
erate distance the fortress of Gaeta on the rocks. The left 
horn stretches out still farther, presenting to the beholder 
first of all a line of mountains, then Vesuvius, and, beyond 
all, the islands. Ischia lies before you, nearly in the centre. 

Here I found on the shore, for the first time in my life, a 
starfish and an echinus thrown up by the sea ; a beautiful 
green leaf {tethys foliacea) , smooth as the finest bath-paper ; 
and other remarkable rubble-stones, the most common being 
limestone, but occasionally also serpentine, jasper, quartz, 
granite, breccian pebbles, porphyry, marble of different 
kinds, and glass of a blue and green color. The two last- 
mentioned specimens are scarcely productions of the neigh- 
borhood. They are probably the debris of ancient buildings ; 
and thus we have seen the waxes before our eyes playing 
with the splendors of the ancient world. We tarried a while, 
and pleased ourselves with meditating on the nature of man. 
whose hopes, whether in the civilized or savage state, are so 
soon disappointed. 

Departing from Molo, the traveller still has a beautiful 
prospeel . even after his (putting the sea. The last glimpse of 
it was a lovely bay. of which we took a sketch. We now 
came upon a good fruit country, with hedges of aloes. We 
noticed an aqueduct, which ran from the mountains over 
some nameless and orderless masses of ruins. 



232 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Next comes the ferry over the Garigliano. After crossing 
it. you pass through tolerably fruitful districts, till you reach 
the mountains. Nothing striking. At length the first hill 

Oct o 

of lava. Here begins an extensive and glorious district of 
hill and vale, over which the snowy summits are towering in 
the distance. On the nearest eminence, lies a long town, 
which strikes the eye with an agreeable effect. In the val- 
ley, lies 8. Agata, a considerable inn, where a cheerful fire 
was burning in a chimney arranged as a cabinet : however, 
our room is cold, — no window, only shutters, which I am 
just hastening to close. 

Naples, Feb 25, 1787. 

And here we are happily arrived at last, and with good 
omens. Of our day's journey thus much only. We left 
S. Agata at sunrise, a violent north-east wind blowing on 
our backs, which continued the whole day through. It was 
not till noon that it was master of the clouds. We suffered 
much from the cold. 

Our road again lay among and over volcanic hills, among 
which I did not notice many limestone rocks. At last we 
reached the plains of Capua, and shortly afterwards Capua 
itself, where we halted at noon. In the afternoon a beau- 
tiful but flat country lay stretched before us. The road is 
broad, and runs through fields of green corn, so even that 
it looked like a carpet, and was at least a span high. Along 
the fields are planted rows of poplars, from which the 
branches are lopped to a great height, that the vines may 
run up them : this is the case all the way to Naples. The 
soil is excellent, light, loose, and well worked. The vine- 
stocks are of extraordinary strength and height, and their 
shoots hang in festoons like nets from tree to tree. 

Vesuvius was all the while on our left, with a strong smoke ; 
and I felt a quiet joy to think that at last I beheld with my 
own eyes this most remarkable object. The sky became 
clearer and clearer, and at length the sun shone quite hot 
into our narrow, rolling lodging. The atmosphere was per- 
fectly clear and bright as we approached Naples; and we 
now found ourselves, in truth, in quite another world. The 
houses, with flat roofs, at once bespeak a different climate 1 . 
Inside, perhaps, they may not be very comfortable. Every 
one is in the streets, or sitting in the sun as long as it shines. 
The Neapolitan believes himself to be in possession of Para- 
dise, and entertains a very melancholy opinion of our north- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 233 

em lands. u Sempre neve, caso cli Iegno,gran ignoranza, ma 
danari assai. ' ' Such is the picture they draw of our condition. 
Interpreted for the benefit of all our German folk, it means, 
" Always snow, wooden houses, great ignorance, but money 
enough." 

Naples at first sight leaves a free, cheerful, and lively im- 
pression. Numberless beings are passing and repassing each 
other: the king is gone hunting, the queen promising; and 
so things could not be better. 

Naples, Monday, Feb. 26, 1787. 

"Alia Locanda del Sgr. Moriconi al Largo del Castello.''' 
Under this address, no less cheerful than high-sounding, 
letters from all the four quarters of heaven will henceforth 
find us. Round the castle, which lies by the sea, there 
stretches a large open space, which, although surrounded on 
all sides with houses, is not called a square, or piazza, but a 
largo, or expanse. Perhaps the name is derived from 
ancient times, when it was still an open and unenclosed 
country. Here, in a corner house on one side of the largo, 
we have taken up our lodgings in a corner room, which com- 
mands a free and lively view of the ever moving surface. 
An iron balcony runs before several windows, and even 
round the corner. One would never leave it if the sharp 
wind were not extremely cutting. 

The room is cheerfully decorated, especially the ceiling, 
whose arabesques of a hundred compartments bear witness to 
the proximity of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Now, all this 
is very well and very fine ; but there is no fireplace, no 
chimney, and yet February exercises even here its rights. 
I expressed a wish for something to warm me. They 
brought in a tripod of sufficient height from the ground for 
one conveniently to hold one's hands over it: on it was 
placed a shallow brasier, full of extremely fine charcoal, 
red-hot, but covered smoothly over with ashes. We how 
found it an advantage to be able to manage this process of 
domestic economy : we had learned that at Rome. With 
the ring of a key, from time to time, one cautiously draws 
away the ashes of the surface, so that a few of the embers 
may be exposed to the free air. Were you impatiently to 
stir up the glowing coals, you would no doubt experience for 
a few moments great warmth ; but you would in a short time 
exhaust the fuel, and then you must pay a certain sum to 
have the brasier filled again. 



234 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

I did not feel quite well, and could have wished for more 
of ease and comfort. A reed matting was all there was to 
protect one's feet from the stone floor: skins are not usual. 
I determined to put on a sailor's cloak which we had brought 
with us in fun ; and it did me good service, especially when 
I tied it round my body with the rope of my box. I must 
have looked very comical, something between a sailor and a 
capuchin. When Tischbein came back from visiting some 
of his friends, and found me in this dress, he could not 
refrain from laughing. 

Naples, Feb. 27, 1787. 
Yesterday I kept quietl} 7 at home, in order to get rid of a 
slight bodily ailment. To-day has been a regular carouse, 
and the time passed rapidly while we visited the most 
glorious objects. Let man talk, describe, and paint as he 
may, — to be here is more than all. The shore, the creeks, 
and the bay, Vesuvius, the city T , the suburbs, the castles, the 
atmosphere ! In the evening, too, we went into the Grotto 
of Posilippo, while the setting sun was shining into it from 
the other side. I can pardon all who lose their senses in 
Naples ; and I remember with emotion my father, who retained 
to the last an indelible impression of those objects which 
to-day I have cast eyes upon for the first time. Just as it is 
said, that people who have once seen a ghost are never after- 
wards seen to smile, so in the opposite sense it may be said 
of him, that he never could become perfectly miserable so 
long as he remembered Naples. According to my fashion, 
I am quite still and calm ; and when any thing happens too 
absurd, only open ni} T eyes widely, — very widely. 

Naples, Fel>. 28, 1787. 

To-day we visited Philip Hackert, the famous landscape- 
painter, who enjoys the special confidence and peculiar 
favor of the king and queen. A wing of the palace Franca 
Villa has been assigned to him. Having furnished it with 
true artistic taste, he feels great satisfaction in inhabiting it. 
He is a very precise and prudent man, who, with untiring 
industry, manages, nevertheless, to enjoy life. 

After that we took a sail, and saw all kinds of fish and 
wonderful shapes drawn out of the waves. The day was 
glorious, the tramontane (north winds) tolerable. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 235 

Naples, March 1, 1787. 

Even in Rome my self-willed, hermit-like humor was forced 
to assume a more social aspect than I altogether liked. No 
doubt it appears a strange mode of proceeding, to go into the 
world in order to be alone : accordingly, I could not resist 
Prince von AValdeck, who most kindly invited me, and by 
his rank and influence has procured me the enjoyment of 
many privileges. We had scarcely reached Naples, where 
he has been residing a long while, when he sent us an invita- 
tion to pay a visit with him to Puzzuoli and the neighbor- 
hood. I was thinking already of Vesuvius for to-day ; but 
Tischbein has forced me to take this journey, which, agreea- 
ble enough of itself, promises from the fine weather, and the 
society of a perfect gentleman and well-educated prince, 
very much both of pleasure and profit. We had also seen 
in Rome a beautiful lady, who, with her husband, is insepara- 
ble from the prince. She also is to be of the party, and we 
hope for a most delightful day. 

Moreover, I was intimately known to this noble society, 
having met them previously. The prince, upon our first 
acquaintance, had asked me what I was then busy with ; and 
the plan of my " Iphigenia " was so fresh in my recollection, 
that 1 was able one evening to relate it to them circum- 
8 tan ti ally. They entered into it : still, I fancied I could 
observe that something livelier and wilder was expected of 
me. 

Evening. 

It would be difficult to give an account of this day. How 
often has the cursory reading of a book which irresistibly 
carries one with it. exercised the greatest influence on a 
man's whole life, and produced at once a decisive effect, 
which neither a second perusal nor earnest reflection can 
either strengthen or modify. This 1 experienced in the case 
of the '• Sakuntala ; " And do not great men affect us some- 
what in the same way? A sail to Puzzuoli, little trips by 
land, cheerful walks through the most wonderful regions in 
the world ! Beneath the purest sky, the most treacherous 
soil ; ruins of inconceivable opulence, oppressive and sad- 
dening ; boiling waters, clefts exhaling sulphur, rocks of 
slag defying vegetable life, bare, forbidding tracts ; and then, 
at last, on all sides the most luxuriant vegetation, seizing 
every spot and cranny possible, running over every lifeless 
object, edging the lakes and brooks, and nourishing a glori- 
ous wood of oak on the brink of an ancient crater! 



23G LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

And thus one is driven to and fro between nature and the 
history of nations : one wishes to meditate, and soon feels 
himself quite unfit for it. In the mean time, however, the 
living live on merrily, with a joyousness which we, too, would 
share. Educated persons, belonging to the world and the 
world's ways, but warned by serious events, become, never- 
theless, disposed for reflection. A boundless view of land, 
sea. and sk}-, — and then called away to the side of a young 
and amiable lady, accustomed and delighted to receive 
homage. 

Amidst all this giddy excitement, however, I failed not 
to make many notes. The future reduction of these will be 
greatly facilitated by the map we consulted on the spot, and 
by a hasty sketch of Tischbein's. To-day it is not possible 
for me to make the least addition to these. 

March 2. 

Thursda3 T I ascended Vesuvius ; although the weather was 
unsettled, and the summit of the mountain surrounded by 
clouds. I took a carriage as far as Resina, and then, on the 
back of a mule, began the ascent, having vineyards on both 
sides. Next, on foot, I crossed the lava of the year '71, on 
the surface of which a fine but compact moss was already 
growing ; then upwards on the side of the lava. The hut of 
the hermit on the height was on my left hand. After this 
we climbed the Ash-hill, which is wearisome walking : two- 
thirds of the summit were enveloped in clouds. At last we 
reached the ancient crater, now filled up, where we found 
recent lava, only two months and fourteen days old, and 
also a slight streak of only five days, which was, however, 
already cold. Passing over these, we next ascended a 
height which had been thrown up by volcanic action : it was 
smoking from all its points. As the smoke rolled away from 
us, I essayed to approach the crater. Scarcely, however, had 
we taken fifty steps in the steam, when it became so dense 
that I could scarcely see my shoes. It was to no purpose 
that we held snuff continually before our nostrils. My guide 
had disappeared, and the footing on the lava lately thrown 
up was very unsteady. I therefore thought it right to turn 
round, and reserve the sight for a finer day and for less of 
smoke. However, I now know how difficult it is to breathe 
in such an atmosphere. 

Otherwise the mountain was quite still. Then' was no 
flame, no roaring, no stones thrown up, — all which it usually 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 237 

does at most times. T reconnoitred it well, with the inten- 
tion of regularly storming it as soon as the weather shall 
improve. What specimens of lava I found were mostly of 
well-known kinds. I noticed, however, a phenomenon 
which appeared to me very strange : I intend to examine it 
again still more closely, and also to consult connoisseurs and 
collectors about it. It is a stalactite incrustation of a part 
of the volcanic funnel, which has been thrown down, and 
now rears itself in the centre of the old choked-up crater. 
This mass of solid grayish stalactite appears to have been 
formed by the sublimation of the very finest volcanic evap- 
oration, without the co-operation of either moisture or 
fusion. It will furnish occasion for further thinking. 

To-day, the 3d of March, the sky is covered with clouds, 
and a sirocco is blowing. For post-day, good weather. 

A very strange medley of men, beautiful houses, and 
most singular iishes, are here to be seen in abundance. 

Of the situation of the city, and of its glories, which have 
been so often described and commended, not a word from 
me. " Vedi Napoli e poi muori" is the cry here. " See 
Naples, and die." 



Naples, March 2, 1787. 

That no Neapolitan will allow the merits of his city to be 
questioned, that their poets should sing in extravagant 
hyperbole of the blessings of its site, are not matters to 
quarrel about, even though a pair of Vesuviuses stood in its 
neighborhood. Here one almost casts aside all remem- 
brances, even of Rome. As compared with this free, open 
situation, the capital of the world, in the basin of the Tiber, 
looks like a cloister built on a bad site. 

The sea, with its vessels and their destinations, presents 
wholly new matters for reflection. The frigate for Palermo 
started yesterday, with a strong, direct north wind. This 
time it certainly will not be more than six and thirty hours 
on the passage. With what longing i watched the full sails 
as the vessel passed between Capri and Cape Minerva, until 
at last it disappeared. Who could see one's beloved thus 
sailing away and survive? The sirocco (south wind) is now 
blowing: if the wind becomes stronger, the breakers over 
the Mole will be glorious. 

To-day being Friday, the grand promenade of the nobility 
came on, when every one displays his equipages, and espe- 



238 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

cially his stud. It is almost impossible to see finer horses 
anywhere than in Naples. For the first time in any life I 
have felt an interest in these animals. 

Naples, March 3, 1787. 

Here you have a few leaves, as reporters of the entertain- 
ment I have met with in this place ; also a corner of the 
cover of your letter, stained with smoke, in testimony of 
its having been with me on Vesuvius. You must not, how- 
ever, fancy, either in your waking thoughts or in your 
dreams, that I am surrounded by perils. Be assured that 
wherever I venture, there is no more danger than on the 
road to Belvedere. "The earth is the Lord's everywhere," 
may well be said in reference to such objects. I never seek 
adventure out of a mere rage for singularity ; but because I 
am mostly cool, and can catch at a glance the peculiarities of 
any object, I may well do and venture more than many 
others. The passage to Sicily is airy thing but dangerous. 
A few days ago the frigate sailed for Palermo with a favor- 
able breeze from the north, and leaving Capri on the right, 
has, no doubt, accomplished the voyage in six and thirty 
hours. In all such expeditions, one finds the danger to be 
far less in reality than, at a distance, one is apt to imagine. 

Of earthquakes, there is not at present a vestige in Lower 
Italy. In the upper provinces, Rimini and its neighborhood 
have lately suffered. Thus the earth has strange humors ; 
and people talk of earthquakes here just as we do of wind 
and w r eather, and as in Thuringia they talk of conflagrations. 

I am delighted to find that von are now familiar with the 
two editions of my " Iphigenia," but still more pleased 
should I be had you been more sensible of the difference 
between them. I know what I have done for it, and may 
well speak thereof ; since I feel that I could make still 
further improvements. If it be a bliss to enjoy the good, it 
is still greater happiness to discern the better ; for in art the 
best only is good enough. 

Naples, March 5, 1787. 
We spent the second Sunday of Lent in visiting church 
after church. As in Rome all is highly solemn, so here 
every hour is merry and eheerful. The Neapolitan school 
of painting, too, can only be understood in Naples. One is 
astonished to see the whole front of a church painted, from 
top to bottom. Over the door of one, Christ is driving out 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 239 

of the temple the buyers and sellers, who, terribly fright- 
ened, are nimbly huddling up their wares, and hurrying 
down the steps on both sides. In another church there is a 
room over the entrance, which is richly ornamented with 
frescos representing the deprivation of Heliodorus. 1 Luca 
Giordano must indeed have painted rapidly, to fill such large 
areas in a lifetime. The pulpit, too, is here not always a 
mere cathedra, as it is in other places, — a place where one 
only may teach at a time, — but a gallery. Along one of these 
I once saw a Capuchin walking up and down, and, now from 
one end, now from another, reproaching the people with 
their sins. What a deal I could say about it ! 

But neither to be told nor to be described is the glory of a 
night of the full moon such as we have enjoyed here. 
Wandering through the streets and squares, and on the quay, 
with its long promenade, and then backward and forward on 
the beach, one felt really possessed with the feeling of the 
infinity of space. So to dream is really worth all trouble. 

Naples, March 5, 1787. 
I made to-day the acquaintance of an excellent individual, 
and 1 must briefly give you a general description of him. It 
is the Chevalier Filangien, famous for his work on legisla- 
tion. He belongs to those noble young men who wish to 
promote the happiness and the moderate liberty of mankind. 
In his bearing you recognize at once the soldier, the cheva- 
lier, and the man of the world ; but this appearance is 
softened by an expression of tender moral sensibility, which 
is diffused over his whole countenance, and shines forth most 
agreeably in his character and conversation. He is, more- 
over, Heartily attached to his sovereign and country, even 
though he cannot approve of all that goes on. He is also 
oppressed with a fear of Joseph II. The idea of a despot, 
even though it only floats as a phantom in the air, excites 
the apprehensions of every noble-minded man. He spoke 
to me without reserve, of what Naples had to fear from 
him ; but in particular he was delighted to speak of Montes- 
quieu, Beccaria, and of some of his own writings, — all in the 
same spirit of the best intention, and of a heart full of 
youthful enthusiasm of doing good. And yet he may one 
day be classed with the Thirty. He has also made me 

1 Heliodorus, bishop of Tricca, in Tbessaly, in the fourth century, author of the 
" (Ethiopics, or, the Amours of Theagenes and Charicloa," was, it is said, deprived 
of his bishopric for writing this work. — A. W. M. 



240 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

acquainted with an old writer, from whose inexhaustible 
depths these new Italian friends of legislation derive intense 
encouragement and edification. He is called Giainbattista 
Yieo, and is preferred even to Montesquieu. After a hasty 
perusal of his book, which was lent to me as a sacred 
deposit, I laid it down, saying to myself, Here are sublime 
anticipations of good and right, which once must, or ought 
to be, realized, drawn apparently from a serious contempla- 
tion both of the past and of the present. It is well when a 
nation possesses such a forefather : the Germans will one 
day receive a similar codex from Hamaun. 

Naples, March G, 1787. 

Most reluctantly, yet for the sake of good-fellowship, 
Tischbein accompanied me to Vesuvius. To him — the 
artist of form, who concerns himself with none but the 
most beautiful of human and animal shapes, and one also 
whose taste and judgment lead to humanize even the form- 
less rock and landscape — such a frightful and shapeless 
conglomeration of matter, which, moreover, is continually 
preying on itself, and proclaiming war against every idea of 
the beautiful, must have appeared utterly abominable. 

We started in two caleches, as we did not trust ourselves 
to drive through the crowd and whirl of the city. The 
drivers kept up an incessant shouting at the top of their 
voice whenever donkeys, with their loads of wood or rubbish, 
or rolling caleches, met us, or else warning the porters with 
their burdens, or other pedestrians, whether children or old 
people, to get out of the way. All the while, however, 
they drove at a sharp trot, without the least stop or check. 

As you get into the remoter suburbs and gardens, the road 
soon begins to show signs of a Plutonic action. For as we 
had not had rain for a long time, the naturally ever-green 
leaves were covered with a thick gray and ashy dust ; so 
that the glorious blue sky, and the scorching sun which 
shone down upon us, were the only signs that we were still 
among the living. 

At the foot of the steep ascent, we were received by two 
guides, one old, the other young, but both active fellows. 
The first pulled me up the path, the other, Tischbein, — 
pulled I say : for these guides are girded round the waist with 
a leathern belt, which the traveller takes hold of; and when 
drawn up by his guide, he makes his way the more easily 
with foot and staff. In this manner we reached the ilat from 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 241 

which the cone rises. Towards the north lay the ruins of the 
So mm a. 

A glance westwards over the country beneath us, removed, 
as well as a bath could, all feeling of exhaustion and fatigue ; 
and we now went round the ever-smoking cone, as it threw 
out its stones and ashes. Wherever the space allowed of 
our viewing it at a sufficient distance, it appeared a grand 
and elevating spectacle. In the first place, a violent 
thundering resounded from its deepest alryss ; then stones of 
larger and smaller sizes were showered into the air by thou- 
sands, and enveloped by clouds of ashes. The greatest part 
fell again into the gorge : the rest of the fragments, receiving 
a lateral inclination, and falling on the outside of the crater, 
made a marvellous rumbling noise. First of all, the larger 
masses plumped against the side, and rebounded with a dull, 
heavy sound ; then the smaller came rattling down ; and last 
of all, a shower of ashes was trickling down. All this took 
place at regular intervals, which, by slowly counting, we were 
able to measure pretty accurately. 

Between the Somma, however, and the cone, the space is 
narrow enough : moreover, several stones fell around us, 
and made the circuit any thing but agreeable. Tischbein now 
felt more disgusted than ever with Vesuvius ; as the monster, 
not content with being hateful, showed inclination to become 
mischievous also. 

As, however, the presence of danger generally exercises 
on man a kind of attraction, and calls forth a spirit of oppo- 
sition in the human breast to defy it, I bethought myself, 
that, in the interval of the eruptions, it would be possible to 
climb up the cone to the crater, and to get back before it 
broke out again. I held a council on this point with our 
guides, under one of the overhanging rocks of the Somma, 
where, encamped in safety, we refreshed ourselves with the 
provisions we had brought with us. The younger guide was 
willing to run the risk with me. We stuffed our hats full of 
linen and silk handkerchiefs, and, staff in hand, prepared to 
start, I holding on to his girdle. 

The little stones were yet rattling round us, and the ashes 
still drizzling, as the stalwart youth hurried forth with me 
across the hot, glowing rubble. We soon stood on the brink 
of the vast chasm, the smoke of which, although a gentle air 
was bearing it away from us. unfortunately veiled the inte- 
rior of the crater, which smoked all round from a thousand 
crannies. At intervals, however, we caught sight, through 



242 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

the smoke, of the cracked walls of the rock. The view w:is 
neither instructive nor delightful: but for the very reason 
that one saw nothing, one lingered in the hope of catching a 
glimpse of something more ; and so we forgot our slow 
counting. We were standing on a narrow ridge of the vast 
abyss : of a sudden the thunder pealed aloud ; we ducked 
our heads involuntarily, as if that would have rescued us 
from the precipitated masses. The smaller stones soon rat- 
tled ; and, without considering that we had again an interval 
of cessation before us, and only too much rejoiced to have 
outstood the danger, we rushed down, and reached the foot 
of the hill, together with the drizzling ashes, which pretty 
thickly covered our heads and shoulders. 

Tischbein was heartily glad to see me again. After a 
little scolding and a little refreshment, I was able to give my 
especial attention to the old and new lava. And here the 
elder of the guides was able to instruct me accurately in the 
signs by which the ages of the several strata were indicated. 
The older were already covered with ashes, and rendered 
quite smooth : the newer, especially those which had cooled 
slowly, presented a singular appearance. As, sliding along, 
they carried away with them the solid objects which lay on 
the surface, it necessarily happened, that, from time to time, 
several would come into contact with each other ; and these 
again being swept still farther by the molten stream, and 
pushed one over the other, would eventually form a solid 
mass, with wonderful jags and corners, still more strange 
even than the somewhat similarly formed piles of the ice- 
bergs. Among this fused and waste matter I found many 
great rocks, which, being struck with a hammer, present on 
the broken face a perfect resemblance to the primeval rock 
formation. The guides maintained that these were old lava 
from the lowest depths of the mountain, which are very often 
thrown up by the volcano. 

Upon our return to Naples, we noticed some small houses 
of only one story-, and of a remarkable appearance and sin- 
gular build, without windows, and receiving all their light 
from the doors, which opened on the road. The inhabitants 
sit before them at the door from the morning to the night, 
when they at last retire to their holes. 

The city, which in the evening is all of a tumult, though 
in a somewhat different manner, extorted from me the wish 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 243 

that I might be able to stay here for some time, in order to 
sketch, to the best of my powers, the moving scene. It will 
not, however, be possible. 

Naples, Wednesday, March 7, 1787. 

This week Tischbein has shown to me, and without reserve 
commented upon, the greater part of the artistic treasures of 
Naples. An excellent judge and drawer of animals, he had 
long before called my attention to a horse's head in brass in 
the Palace Columbrano. AVe went there to-day. This relic 
of art is placed in the court, right opposite the gateway, in a 
niche over a well, and really excites one's astonishment. 
What must have been the effect of the whole head and body 
together ? The perfect horse must have been far larger than 
those at St. Mark's : moreover, the head alone, when closely 
viewed, enables you distinctly to recognize and admire the 
character and spirit of the animal. The splendid frontal 
bones, the snorting nostrils, the pricked ears, the stiff mane, 
— a strong, excited, and spirited creature! 

AVe turned round to notice a female statue which stands in 
a niche over the gateway. It has been already described by 
AVinckelmann as an imitation of a dancing-girl, with the 
remark, that such artistes represent to us in living movement, 
and under the greatest variety, that beauty of form which 
the masters of statuary exhibit in the (as it were) petrified 
nymphs and goddesses. It is very light and beautiful. The 
head, which had been broken off, has been skilfully set on 
again : otherwise it is nowise injured, and most assuredly 
deserves a better place. 

Naples, March 0, 1787. 

To-day I received your dear letter of the 16th of February : 
only, keep on writing. I have made arrangements for the 
forwarding of my letters, and I shall continue to do so if I 
move farther. Quite strange does it seem to me to read that 
my friends do not often see each other ; and yet perhaps 
nothing is more common than for men not to meet who are 
living close together. 

The weather here has become dull; a change is at hand. 
Spring is commencing, and we shall soon have some rainy 
days. The summit of \ r esu\ius has not been clear since I 
paid it a visit. These few last nights flames have been seen 
to issue from it : to-day it is keeping quiet, and therefore 
more violent eruptions are expected. 



244 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

The storms of these last few days have shown to us a 
glorious sea : it is at such times that the waves may be 
studied in their worthiest style and shape. Nature, indeed, 
is the only hook which presents important matter on all its 
pages. On the other hand, the theatres have ceased to fur- 
nish any amusement. During Lent nothing but operas. 
which differ in no respect from more profane ones hut by the 
absence of ballets between the acts. In all other respects 
they are as gay as possible. In the theatre of 8. Carlo they 
are representing the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchad- 
nezzar. To me it is only a great raree-show : my taste is 
quite spoilt for such things. 

To-day we were with the Prince von Waldeck at Capo di 
Monte, where there is a great collection of paintings, coins, 
etc. It is not well arranged, but the things themselves are 
above praise. AVe can now correct and confirm many 
traditional ideas. Those coins, gems, and vases, which, 
like the stunted citron-trees, come to us in the North one 
by one, have quite a different look here, in the mass, 
and, so to speak, in their own home and native soil. For 
where works of art are rare, their very rarity gives them a 
value : here we learn to treasure none but the intrinsically 
valuable. 

A very high price is at present given for Etruscan vases, 
and certainly beautiful and excellent pieces are to be found 
among them. Not a traveller but wishes to possess some 
specimen or other of them. One does not seem to value 
money here at the same rate as at home : I fear that I my- 
self shall yet be tempted. 

Napi.es, Friday, March 0, 1787. 
This is the pleasant part of travelling, that even ordinary 
matters, by their novelty and unexpectedness, often acquire 
the appearance of an adventure. As I came back from Capo 
di Monte, I paid an evening visit to Filangieri, and saw sit- 
ting on the sofa, by the side of the mistress of the house, a 
lady whose external appearance seemed to agree but little 
with the familiarity and easy manner she indulged in. In 
a light, striped, silk gown of verv ordinary texture, and a 
most singular cap by way of head-dress, but being of a 
pretty figure, she looked like some poor dressmaker, who, 
taken up with the care of adorning the persons of others, had 
little time to bestow on her own external appearance. Such 
people are so accustomed to expect their labors to be remu- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 245 

nerated, that they seem to have no idea of working gratis for 
themselves. She did not allow her gossip to be at all 
checked by my arrival, but went on talking of a number of 
ridiculous adventures which had happened to her that day, 
or which had been occasioned by her own brusquerie and 
impetuosity. 

The lady of the house wished to help me to get in a word 
or two, and spoke of the beautiful site of Capo di Monte, 
and of the treasures there. Upon this the lively lady sprang 
up with a good high jump from the sofa, and as she stood on 
her feet seemed still prettier than before. She took leave, 
and running to the door, said as she passed me, "The Filan- 
gieri are coming one of these days to dine with me. I hope 
to see you also." She was gone before I could say yes. I 

now learned that she was the Princess , a near relative 

to the master of the house. 1 The Filangieri were not rich, 
mid lived in a becoming but moderate style; and such I 
presumed was the ease with my little princess, especially as 
such titles are any thing but rare in Naples. I set down the 
mime, and the day and hour, and left them, without any 
doubt but that I should be found at the right place in due 
time. 

Naples, Sunday, March 11, 1787. 

As my stay in Naples cannot be long, I take my most re- 
mote points first of all : the near throw themselves, as it 
were, in one's way. I have been with Tischbeiu to Pompeii ; 
and on our road all those glorious prospects which were al- 
ready well known to us from many a landscape-drawing, lay 
right and left, dazzling us by their number and unbroken suc- 
cession. 

Pompeii amazes one by its narrowness and littleness, — 
confined streets, but perfectly straight, and furnished on both 
sides with a foot pavement ; little houses without windows, 
the rooms being lit only by the doors, which opened on the 
atrium and the galleries. Even the public edifices, the tomb 
at tin; gate, a temple, and also a villa in its neighborhood, 
are like models and doll's houses, rather than real buildings. 
The rooms — corridors, galleries, and all — are painted with 
bright and cheerful colors, the wall-surfaces uniform ; in the 
middle some elaborate painting (most of these have been 
removed) ; on the borders and at the coiners, light, tasteful 
arabesques, terminating in the pretty figures of nymphs or 

1 FUangieri'e .sister. 



246 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

children ; while in others, from out of garlands of flowers, 
beasts, wild and tame, are issuing. Thus does the city, 
which first of all the hot shower of stones and ashes over- 
whelmed, and afterwards the excavators [(hindered, still hear 
witness, even in its present utterly desolate state, to a taste 
for painting and the arts common to the whole people, of 
which the most enthusiastic dilettante of the present day has 
no idea ; nor has he any feeling nor desire for it. 

When one considers the distance of this town from Vesu- 
vius, it is clear that the volcanic matter which overwhelmed 
it could not have been carried hither either by any sudden 
impetus of the mountain or by the wind. AVe must rather 
suppose that these stones and ashes had been floating for a 
time in the air, like clouds, until at last they fell upon the 
doomed city. 

In order to form a clear and precise idea of this event, one 
has only to think of a mountain village buried in snow. The 
spaces between the houses, and indeed the crushed houses 
themselves, were filled up ; however, it is not improbable 
that some of the mason-work may at different points have 
peeped above the surface, and in this way have excited the 
notice of those by whom the hill was broken up for vineyards 
and o-ardens. And, no doubt, many an owner, on digging 
up his own portion, must have made valuable gleanings. 
Several rooms were found quite empty ; and in the corner of 
one a heap of ashes was observed, under which a quantity of 
household articles and works of art was concealed. 

The strange, and in some degree unpleasant, impression 
which this mummied city leaves on the mind, we <2,ot rid of, 
as, sitting in the arbor of a little inn close to the sea (where 
we partook of a frugal meal), we revelled in the blue sky. 
the glaring ripple of the sea, and the bright sunshine ; and 
cherished a hope that when the vine-leaf should again cover 
the hill we might all be able to pay it a second visit, and 
once more enjoy ourselves together on the same spot. 

As we approached the city, we again came upon the little 
cottages, which now appeared to us perfectly to resemble 
those in Pompeii. AVe obtained permission to enter one, 
and found it extremely clean. — neatly platted, rush-bottomed 
chairs, a buffet, covered all over with gilding, or painted with 
variegated flowers, and highly varnished. Thus, after so 
many centuries, and such numberless changes, this country 
instils into its inhabitants the same customs and habits of 
life, the same inclinations and tastes. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 247 

Naples, 
Monday, March 12, 1787. 

To-day, according to my custom, I have gone slowly 
through the cit} T , noting for future description several points, 
but about which, I am sorry to say, I cannot communicate 
any thing to-day. All tends to this one conclusion : that a 
highly favored land, which furnishes in abundance the chief 
necessaries of existence, produces men also of a happ}' dis- 
position, who, without trouble or anxiety, trust to to-morrow 
to bring them what to-day has been wanting, and consequently 
live on in a light-hearted, careless sort of life. Momentary 
gratification, moderate enjoyments, a passing sorrow, and a 
cheerful resignation. 

The morning has been cold and damp, with a little rain. 
In my walk I came upon a spot where the great slabs of the 
pavement appeared swept quite clean. To my great surprise 
1 saw, on this smooth and even spot, a number of ragged 
boys, squatting in a circle, and spreading out their hands 
over the ground as if to warm them. At first I took it to 
be some game that they were playing. When, however, I 
noticed the perfect seriousness and composure of their coun- 
tenances, with an expression on it of a gratified want, I 
therefore put my brains to the utmost stretch, but they re- 
fused to enlighten me as I desired. I was, therefore, obliged 
to ask what it could be that had induced these little imps to 
take up this strange position, and had collected them in so 
regular a circle. 

Upon this I was informed that a neighboring smith had 
been heating the tire of a wheel, and that this is done in the 
following manner. The iron tire is laid on the pavement, 
and around it is as much of oak chips as is considered suffi- 
cient to soften the iron to the required degree : the lighted 
wood burns away, the tire is riveted to the wheel, and the 
.-lilies carefully swept up. The little vagabonds take advan- 
tage of the heat communicated to the pavement, and do not 
leave the spot till they have drawn from it the last radiation 
of warmth. Similar instances of contentedness, and sharp- 
witted profiting by what otherwise would be wasted, occur 
here in great number. I notice in this people the most 
shrewd and active industry, not to get rich, but to live free 
from care. 



248 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Evening. 

In order not to make 1 a mistake yesterday as to the house 
of my odd little princess, and to be there in time. I called a 
hackney carriage. It stopped before the grand entrance of 
a spacious palace. As ] had no idea of coming to so splen- 
did a dwelling, I repeated to him most distinctly the name : 
he assured me it was quite right. I soon found myself in a 
spacious court, still and lonesome, empty and clean, enclosed 
by the principal edifice and side buildings. The architecture 
was the well-known light Neapolitan style, as was also the 
coloring. Right before me was a grand porch, and a broad 
but not very high flight of steps. On both sides of it stood 
a line of servants in splendid liveries, who, as I passed them, 
bowed very low. I thought myself the Sultan in Wieland's 
fairy tale, and, after his example, took courage. Next I was 
received by the upper domestics, till at last the most courtly 
of them opened a door, and introduced me into a spacious 
apartment, which was as splendid, but also as empty of 
people, as all before. In passing up and down, I observed in 
a side-room a table laid out for about forty persons, with a 
splendor corresponding with all around. A secular priesl 
now entered, and without asking who I was, or whence I 
came, approached me as if I were already known to him. 
and conversed on the most general topics. 

A pair of folding doors were now thrown open, and imme- 
diately closed again, when a gentleman rather advanced in 
years had entered. The priest immediately proceeded 
towards him, as I also did. We greeted him with a few 
words of courtesy, which lie returned in a barking, stuttering 
lone, so that I could scarcely make out a syllable of his 
Hottentot dialect. When he had taken his place by the 
stove, the priest moved away, and I accompanied him. A 
portly Benedictine entered, accompanied by a younger mem- 
ber of his older. He went to salute the host. and. after 
being also barked at, retired to a window. The regular 
clergy, especially those whose dress is becoming, have great 
advantage in society : their costume is a mark of humility 
and renunciation of self, while, at the same time, it lends to 
its wearers a decidedly dignified appearance. In their behav- 
ior they may easily, without degrading themselves, appear 
submissive and complying: and then again, when they stand 
upon their own dignity, their self-respect is well becoming 
1 > them, although in others it would not be so readily 
allowed f<> p:iss. This was the case with this person. When 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 249 

I asked him about Monte Cassino, he immediately gave 
me an invitation thither, and promised me the best of wel- 
comes. In the mean time the room had become full of peo- 
ple : officers, people of the court, more regulars, and even 
some Capuchins, had arrived. Once more a set of folding- 
doors opened and shut : an aged lady, somewhat older than 
my host, had entered ; and now the presence of what I took 
to be the lady of the house, made me feel perfectly confident 
that I was in a strange mansion, jfnd wholly unknown to its 
inmates. Dinner was now served ; and I was keeping close 
to the side of my friends, the monks, in order to slip with 
them into the paradise of the dining-room, when all at once 
I saw Filangieri, with his wife, enter and make his excuses 
for being so late. Shortly after this my little princess came 
into the room, and with nods, and winks, and bows, to all as 
she passed, came straight to me. "It is very good of you 
to keep your word," she exclaimed : " mind you sit by me, 
— you shall have the best bits, — wait a minute though ; I 
must find out which is my proper place, then mind and take 
your place by me." Thus commanded, I followed the vari- 
ous windings she made, and at last we reached our seats, 
Benedictine sitting right opposite, and Filangieri on my 
other side. "The dishes are all good," she observed, — 
" all Lenten fare, but choice : I'll point out to you the best. 
But now I must rally the priests, — the churls ! I can't bear 
them : every day they are cutting a fresh slice off our estate. 
What we have, we should like to spend on ourselves and our 
friends." The soup was now handed round, — the Bene- 
dictine was sipping his very deliberately. "Pray don't put 
yourself out of your way, — the spoon is too small, I fear: 
I will bid them bring you a larger one. Your reverences 
arc used to a good mouthful." The good father replied, 
" In your house, lady, every thing is so excellent, and so 
well arranged, that much more distinguished guests than 
your humble servant would find every thing to their heart's 
content." 

Of the pasties the Benedictine took only one. She called 
out to him, " Pray take; half a dozen : pastry, your rev- 
erence surely knows, is easy of digestion." With good 
sense he took another pasty, thanking the princess for her 
attention just as if he had not seen through her malicious 
raillery. And so, also, some solid paste-work furnished her 
with occasion for venting her spite ; for, as the monk helped 
himself to a piece, a second rolled off the dish towards his 



250 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

plate. "A third! your reverence: you seem anxious to 
lay a foundation." — "When such excellent materials are 
furnished to his hand, the architect's labors are easy," re- 
joined his reverence. Thus she went on continually, only 
pausing a while to keep her promise of pointing out to me 
the best dishes. 

All this while I was conversing with my neighbor on the 
gravest topics. Absolutely, I never heard Filangieri utter 
an unmeaning sentence. In this respect, and indeed in 
many others, he resembles our worthy friend, George Schlos- 
ser ; with this difference, that the former, as a Neapolitan 
and a man of the world, had a softer nature and an easier 
manner. 

During the whole of this time my roguish neighbor allowed 
the clerical gentry not a moment's truce. Above all. the 
fish at this Lenten meal, dished up in imitation of flesh of all 
kinds, furnished her with inexhaustible opportunities for all 
manner of irreverent and ill-natured observations. Espe- 
cially in justification and defence of a taste for flesh, she 
observed that people would have the form, to give a relish, 
even when the essence was prohibited. 

Many more such jokes were noticed by me at the time, 
but I am not in the humor to repeat them. Jokes of this 
kind, when first spoken, and falling from beautiful lips, may 
be tolerable, not to say amusing ; but, set down in black and 
white, they lose all charm, — for me at least. Then again. 
the boldly hazarded stroke of wit has this peculiarity, that. 
at the moment, it pleases us while it astonishes us by its 
boldness ; but when told afterwards, it sounds offensive, and 
disgusts us. 

The dessert was brought in, and I was afraid that the 
cross-lire would still be kept up, when suddenly my fair 
neighbor turned quite composedly to me and said. u The 
priests may gulp their Syracusan wine in peace, for I can- 
not succeed in worrying a single one to death. — no. not 
even in spoiling their appetites. Now, let me have some 
rational talk with you ; for what a heavy sort of thing must 
a conversation with Filangieri be ! The good creature ! be 
gives himself a great deal of trouble for nothing. I often 
say to him, ' If you make new laws, we must give ourselves 
fresh pains to find out how we can forthwith transgress them, 
just as we have already set at D aught the old.' Only look 
now. how beautiful Naples is! For these many years the 
people have lived free from care and contented ; and if now 



LETTERS PROM ITALY. 251 

and then some poor wretch is hanged, all the rest still pur- 
sue their own merry course." She then proposed that I 
should pay a visit to Sorrento, where she had a large estate. 
Her steward would feast me with the best of fish, and the 
delicious mungana (flesh of a sucking calf). The moun- 
tain air, and the unequalled prospect, would be sure to cure 
me of all philosophy. Then she would come herself, and 
not a trace should remain of all my wrinkles, — which at 
any rate I had allowed to come on before their time, — and 
together we would have a right merry time of it. 

NAn.Es, March 13, 1787. 

To-day also I write you a few lines, in order that letter 
may provoke letter. Things go well with me : however, I 
see less than I ought. The place induces an indolent and 
easy sort of life : nevertheless, my idea of it is gradually 
becoming more and more complete. 

On Sunday we were in Pompeii. Many a calamity has 
happened in the world, but never one that has caused so 
much entertainment to posterity as this one. I scarcely 
know of any thing that is more interesting. The houses are 
small and close together, but within they are all most exquis- 
itely painted. The gate of the city is remarkable, with the 
tombs close to it. The tomb of a priestess, a semicircular 
bench, with a stone back, on which was the inscription cut 
in large characters. Over the back you have a sight of 
the sea and the setting sun, — a glorious spot, worthy of the 
beautiful idea. 

We found there good and merry company from Naples : 
the men are perfectly natural, and light-hearted. We took 
dinner at "Torre dell' Annunziata," with our table placed 
close to the sea. The day was extremely fine. The view 
towards Castellamare and Sorrento, near and incompara- 
ble. My companions were quite rapturous in praise of their 
native place : some asserted that without a sight of the sea 
it was impossible to live. To me it is quite enough that I 
have its image in my soul, and so, when the time comes, 
may safely return to my mountain home. 

Fortunately, there is here a very honest painter of land- 
scapes, who imparts to his pieces the impression of the rich 
and open country around. lie has already executed some 
sketches for me. 

The Yesuvian productions I have now pretty well studied : 
things, however, assume a different signification when one 



252 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

sees them in connection. Property, T ought to devote the 
rest of my Life to observation : I should discover much that 
would enlarge man's knowledge. Pray tell Herder that my 
botanical discoveries are continually advancing : it is still the 
same principle, but it requires a whole life to work it out. 
Perhaps I am already in a situation to draw the leading lines 
of it. 

I can now enjoy myself at the museum of Portici. Usually 
people make it the first object: we mean to make it our 
last. As yet I do not know whether I shall be able to extend 
my tour : all things tend to drive me back to Rome at Easter. 
I shall let things take their course. 

Angelica has undertaken to paint a scene of my kw Iphi- 
genia." The thought is a very happy subject for a picture, 
and she will delineate it excellently. It is the moment when 
Orestes finds himself again in the presence of his sister and 
his friend. What the three characters are saying to each 
other she has indicated by the grouping, and given their 
words in the expressions of their countenances. From this 
description you may judge how keenly sensitive she is. and 
how quick she is to seize whatever is adapted to her nature. 
And it is really the turning-point of the whole drama. 

Farewell, and love me ! Here the people are all very 
good, even though they do not know what to make of me. 
Tischbein, on the other hand, pleases them far better. This 
evening he hastily painted some heads of the size of life, at 
and about which they disported themselves as strangely as 
the New Zealanders at the sight of a ship of war. Of this 
an amusing anecdote. 

Tischbein has a great knack of etching with a pen the 
shapes of gods and heroes, of the size of life, and even 
more. He uses very few lines, but cleverly puts in the 
shades with a broad pencil, so that the heads stand out 
roundly and nobly. The by-standers looked on with amaze- 
ment, and were highly delighted. At last an itching seized 
their fingers to try and paint: they snatched the brushes, 
and painted — one another's beards, daubing each other's 
faces. Was not this an original trait of human nature? And 
this was done in an elegant circle, in the house of one who 
was himself a clever draughtsman and painter! It is impos- 
sible to form an idea of this race without having seen them. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 253 

Caserta, 
Wednesday, March 14, 1787. 

I am hero on a visit to Hackert, in his highly agreeable 
apartments which have been assigned him in the ancient 
castle. The new palace, somewhat huge and Escurial-like, 
of a quadrangular plan, with many courts, is royal enough. 
The site is uncommonly fine, on one of the most fertile plains 
in the world, and yet the gardens trench on the mountains. 
From these an aqueduct brings down an entire river to sup- 
ply water to the palace and the district; and the whole can, 
on occasion, be thrown on some artificially arranged rocks, to 
form a most glorious cascade. The gardens are beautifully 
laid out, and suit well with a district which itself is thought 
a garden. 

The castle is truly kingly. It appears to me, however, 
particularly gloomy ; and no one of us could bring himself 
to think the vast and empty rooms comfortable. The king 
probably is of the same opinion ; for he has caused a house 
to be built on the mountains, which, smaller and more pro- 
portioned to man's littleness, is intended for a hunting-box 
and country-seat. 

Caserta, 
Thursday, March 15, 1787. 

Hackert is lodged very comfortably in the old castle : it is 
(piite roomy enough for all his guests. Constantly busy with 
drawing and painting, he, nevertheless, is very social, and 
easily draws men around him, as in the end he generally 
makes every one become his scholar. He has also quite won 
me by putting up patiently with my weaknesses, and insists, 
above all things, on distinctness of drawing, and marked and 
clear keeping. When he paints, he has three colors always 
ready : and as he works on, and uses one after another, a pic- 
ture is produced, one knows not how or whence. I wish the 
execution were as easy as it looks. With his usual blunt 

honesty he said to , kt You have capacity, but you are 

unable to accomplish any tiling: stay with me a year and a 
half, and you shall be able to produce such works as shall 
be ;i delight to yourself and to others." Is not this a text on 
which one might preach eternally to dilettanti? " We would 
like to see what sort of a pupil we can make of you." 

The sj)cci;il confidence with which the queen honors him 
is evinced not merely by the fact that he gives lessons in 
practice to the princesses, but still more so by his being fre- 



254 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

quently summoned of an evening to talk with, and instruct 
them on art and kindred subjects. lie makes Sulzer's book 
the basis of such lectures, selecting the articles as entertain- 
ment or conviction may be his subject. 

I was obliged to approve of this, and, in consequence, to 
laugh at myself. What a difference is there between him 
who wishes to investigate principles, and one whose highest 
object is to work on the world and to teach them for their 
mere private amusement. Sulzer's theory was always odious 
to me on account of the falseness of its fundamental maxim, 
but now I saw that the book contained much more than the 
multitude require. The varied information which is here 
communicated, the mode of thinking with which alone so 
active a mind as Sulzer's could be satisfied, must have been 
quite sufficient for the ordinary run of people. 

Many happy and profitable hours have I spent with the 
picture-restorer Anders, who has been summoned hither from 
Rome, and resides in the castle, and industriously pursues 
his work, in which the king takes a great interest. Of his 
skill in restoring old paintings, I dare not begin to speak ; 
since it would be necessary to describe the whole process of 
this } r et difficult craft, and wherein consists the difficulty 
of the problem, and the merit of success. 

Caserta, March 10, 1787. 

Your dear letter of the 19th February reached me to-day, 
and I must forthwith despatch a word or two in reply. How 
glad should I be to come to my senses again, by thinking of 
my friends ! 

Naples is a paradise : in it eveiy one lives in a sort of 
intoxicated self-forgetfulness. It is even so with me : I 
scarcely know myself ; I seem to myself quite an altered 
man. Yesterday I said to myself, tk Either you have always 
been mad, or you are so now." 

I have paid a visit to the ruins of ancient Capua, and all 
that is connected with it. 

In this country one first begins to have a true idea of what 
vegetation is, and why man tills the fields. The fiax here is 
already near to blossoming, and the wheat a span and a half 
high. Around Caserta the land is perfectly level, the fields 
worked as clean and as line as the beds of a garden. All of 
them are planted with poplars, and from tree to tree the vine 
spreads; and yet, notwithstanding this shade, the soil below 
produces the finest and most abundant crops possible. What 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 255 

will they bo when the spring shall come in power? Hitherto 
we have had very cold winds, and there has been snow on 
the mountains. 

Within a fortnight I must decide whether to go to Sicily 
or not. Never before have I been so tossed backward and 
forward in coming to a resolution : every day something will 
occur to recommend the trip ; the next morning some cir- 
cumstance will be against it. Two spirits are contending 
for me. 

I say this in confidence, and for my female friends alone : 
speak not a word of it to my male friends. I am well aware 
that my " Iphigenia" has fared strangely. The public were 
so accustomed to the old form, expressions which they had 
adopted from frequent hearing and reading were familiar 
to them ; and now quite a different tone is sounding in their 
ears, and 1 clearly see that no one, in fact, thanks me for 
the endless pains I have been at. Such a w r ork is never 
finished : it must, however, pass for such, as soon as the 
author has done his utmost, considering time and circum- 
stances. 

All this, however, will not be able to deter me from trying 
a similar operation with "Tasso." Perhaps it would be 
better to throw it into the fire ; however, I shall adhere to 
my resolution ; and since it must be what it is, I shall make a 
wonderful work of it. On this account, I am pleased to find 
that the printing of my works goes on so slowly ; and then, 
again, it is well to be at a distance from the murmurs of the 
compositor. Strange enough, that, even in one's most in- 
pendent actions, one expects — nay, requires — a stimulus. 

Caserta, March 10, 1787. 
If in Rome one can readily set one's self to study, here 
one can do nothing but live. You forget yourself and the 
world ; and to me it is a strange feeling to go about with 
people who think of nothing but enjoying themselves. Sir 
William Hamilton, who still resides here as ambassador from 
England, has at length, after his long love of art and long 
study, discovered the most perfect of admirers of nature and 
ail in a beautiful young woman. She lives with him, — an 
English woman about twenty years old. She is very hand- 
some, and of a beautiful figure. The old knight has had 
made for her a Greek costume, which becomes her extremely. 
Dressed in this, and letting her hair loose, and taking a 
couple of shawls, she exhibits every possible variety of pos- 



256 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

ture, expression, and look, so that at the last the spectator 
almost fancies it is a dream. One beholds here in perfection, 
in movement, in ravishing variety, all that the greatest of 
artists have rejoiced to be able to produce. .Standing, kneel- 
ing, sitting, lying down, grave or sad, playful, exulting, 
repentant, wanton, menacing, anxious, — all mental states 
follow rapidly, one after another. With wonderful taste she 
suits the folding of her veil to each expression, and with the 
same handkerchief makes every kind of head-dress. The 
old knight holds the light for her, and enters into the ex- 
hibition with his whole soul. He thinks he can discern in 
her a resemblance to all the most famous antiques, all the 
beautiful profiles on the Sicilian coins, — ay, of the Apollo 
Belvedere itself. This much at any rate is certain, — the 
entertainment is unique. We spent two evenings on it with 
thorough enjoyment. To-day Tischbein is engaged in paint- 
ing her. 

What I have seen and inferred of the personnel of the 
Court requires to be further tested, before I set it down. 
To-da} T the king is gone hunting the wolves : they hope to 
kill at least five. 

Naples, March 17, 1787. 
When I would write words, images only start before my 
eyes, — the beautiful land, the free sea, the hazy islands, 
the roaring mountain ! Powers to delineate all this fail me. 

Here in this country one at last understands how man 
could ever take it into his head to till the ground, — here, 
where it produces every thing, and where one may look for 
as many as from three to five crops in the year. 

I have seen much, and reflected still more. The world 
opens itself to me more and more : all even that I have 
long known is at last becoming my own. How quick to 
know, but how slow to put in practice, is the human creature ! 

The only pity is, that I cannot at each moment communi- 
cate to others my observations. But, both as man and artist, 
one is here driven backward and forward by a hundred ideas 
of his own, while his services are put in requisition by hun- 
dreds of persons, ilis situation is peculiar and strange: 
lie cannot freely sympathize with another's being, because 
he finds his own exertions so put to the stretch. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 257 

And, after all, the world is nothing but a wheel. In its 
whole periphery it is everywhere similar ; but, nevertheless, 
it appears to us so strange, because we ourselves are carried 
round with it. 

What I always said has actually come to pass : in this land 
alone do I begin to understand and to unravel many a phe- 
nomenon of nature, and complication of opinion. I am 
gathering from every quarter, and shall bring back with me 
a great deal, — certainly much love of my own native laud, 
and joy to live with a few dear friends. 

AVith regard to my Sicilian tour, the gods still hold the 
scales in their hands : the index still wavers. 

Who can the friend be who has been thus mysteriously 
announced? Only, may I not neglect him in my pilgrimage 
and tour in the island ! 

The frigate from Palermo has returned : in eight days she 
sets sail again. Whether I shall sail with it, and be back 
at Home by Passion Week, I have not as yet determined. 
Never in my life have I been so undecided : a trifle will turn 
the scale. 

With men I get on rather better : for I feel that one must 
weigh them by avoirdupois weight, and not by the jewel- 
ler's scales ; as, unfortunately, friends too often weigh one 
another in their hypochondriacal humors and in an over- 
exacting spirit. 

Here men know nothing of one another. They scarcely 
observe that others are also going on their way, side by side 
with them. They run all day backward and forward in a 
paradise, without looking around them ; and, if the neigh- 
boring jaws of hell begin to open and to rage, they have 
recourse to St. Januarius. 

To pass through such a countless multitude, with its rest- 
less excitement, is strange, but salutary. Here they are all 
crossing and recrossing one another, and yet every (me finds 
his way and his object. In so great a crowd and bustle I 
feel more calm and solitary than on other occasions: the 
more bustling the streets become, the more quietly I move. 



258 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Often do I think of Rousseau and his hypochondriacal 

discontent; and I can thoroughly understand how so fine an 
organization may have been deranged. Did I not myself 

feel such sympathy with natural objects ; and did I not sec. 
that, in the apparent perplexity, a hundred seemingly con- 
trary observations admit of being reconciled, and arranged 
side by side, just as the geometer by a cross line tests many 
measurements, I should often think myself mad. 

Naples, March IS, 1787. 

We must not any longer put off our visit to Herculaneum, 
and the Museum of Portici, where the curiosities which have 
been dug out of it are collected and preserved. That ancient 
city, lying at the foot of Vesuvius, was entirely covered with 
lava, which subsequent eruptions successively raised so high 
that the buildings are at present sixty feet below the surface. 
The city was discovered by some men coming upon a marble 
pavement, as they were digging a well. It is a great pity 
that the excavation was not executed systematically by Ger- 
man miners ; for it is admitted that the work, which was 
carried on at random, and with the hope of plunder, has 
spoilt man} T a noble monument of ancient art. After de- 
scending sixty steps into a pit, by torch-light, you gaze in 
admiration at the theatre which once stood beneath the open 
sk} T , and listen to the guide recounting all that was found 
there, and carried off. 

We entered the museum well recommended, and were well 
received: nevertheless, we were not allowed to take any 
drawings. Perhaps on this account we paid the more atten- 
tion to what we saw, and the more vividly transported our- 
selves into those long-passed times, when all these things 
surrounded their living owners, and ministered to the use 
and enjoyment of life. The little houses and rooms of 
Pompeii now appeared to me at once more spacious and 
more confined, — more confined, because I fancied them to 
myself crammed full of so many precious objects ; more 
spacious, because these very objects could not have been 
furnished merely as necessaries, but, being decorated with 
the most graceful and ingenious devices of the imitative 
arts, must, while they delighted the taste, also have enlarged 
the mind far beyond what the amplest house-room could ever 
have done. 

One sees here, for instance, a nobly-shaped pail, mounted 
at the top with a highly-ornamented edge. When you exam- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 259 

ine it more closely, you find that this rim rises on two sides, 
and so furnishes convenient handles by which the vessel 
may be lifted. The lamps, according to the number of their 
wicks, are ornamented with masks aud mountings, so that 
each burner illuminates a genuine figure of art. We also 
saw some high and gracefully slender stands of iron for 
holding Lamps, the pendent burners being suspended with 
figures of all kinds, which display a wonderful fertility of 
invention ; and as, in order to please and delight the eye, 
they sway and oscillate, the effect surpasses all description. 
In the hope of being able to pay a second visit, we fol- 
lowed the usher from room to room, and snatched all the 
delight and instruction that was possible from a cursory 
view. 

NAPLES 

Monday, March 10, 1787. 
Within these last few days I have formed a new connec- 
tion. Tischbein has for three or four weeks faithfully lent 
me all the assistance in his power, and diligently explained 
to me the works both of nature and art. Yesterday, how- 
ever, after being at the Museum of Portici, we had some 
conversation together, and came to the conclusion, that, 
considering his own artistic objects, he could not perform, 
with credit to himself, the works which, in the hope of some 
future appointment in Naples, he has undertaken for the 
Court and for several persons in the city ; nor do justice to 
my views, wishes, and fancies. With sincere good wishes 
for my success, he has therefore recommended to me for my 
constant companion a young man, whom, since I arrived 
here, I have often seen, not without feeling some interest 
and liking for him. His name is Kniep, who, after a long 
stay at Rome, has come to Naples as the true field and 
element of the landscape-painter. Even in Rome I had 
heard him highly spoken of as a clever draughtsman, only 
his industry was not much commended. I have tolerably 
studied his character, and think the ground of this censure 
arises rather from a want of a decision, which certainly may 
be overcome if we are long together. A favorable begin- 
ning confirms me in this hope ; and, if he continues to go on 
thus, we shall continue good companions for some time. 

Naples, Marcli 19, 1787. 
One needs only walk along the streets, and keep his eyes 
well open, and he is sure to see the most unequalled scenes. 



200 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

At the Mole, one of the noisiest quarters of the city, I saw 
yesterday a Pulcinello, who, on a temporary stage of planks, 
was quarrelling with an ape ; while from a balcony above, a 
right pretty maiden was exposing her charms to every ey . 
Not far from the ape and his stage, a quack doctor was 
recommending to the credulous crowd his nostrums for every 
evil. Such a scene painted by a Gerard Dow would not fail 
to charm contemporaries and posterity. 

To-day, moreover, was the festival of St. Joseph. He is 
the patron of all Fritaruoli, — that is, pastry-cooks, — and 
understands baking in a very extensive sense. Because 
beneath the black and seething oil hot flames will of course 
rage, therefore every kind of torture b} T fire falls within 
his province. Accordingly, yesterda}- evening being the eve 
of the saint's day, the fronts of the houses were adorned 
with pictures, to the best of the inmates' skill, representing 
souls in Purgatory, or the Last Judgment, with plenty of 
fire and flame. Before the doors, frying-pans were hissing 
on hastily constructed hearths. One partner was working 
the dough ; another shaped it into twists, and threw it into 
the boiling lard ; a third stood by the frying-pan, holding a 
short skewer, with which he drew out the twists as soon as 
they were done, and shoved them off on another skewer to a 
fourth party, who offered them to the by-standers. The two 
last were generally young apprentices, and wore white curly 
wigs ; this head-dress being the Neapolitan symbol of an 
angel. Other figures besides completed the group ; and 
these were busy in presenting wine to the busy cooks, or in 
drinking themselves, shouting, and puffing the article all the 
while. The angels, too, and cooks, were all clamoring. The 
people crowded to buy ; for all pastry is sold cheap on this 
evening, and a part of the profits given to the poor. 

Scenes of this kind may be witnessed without end. Thus 
fares it every day. — always something new, some fresh 
absurdity. The variety of costume, too, that meets you in 
the streets ; the multitude, too, of passages in the Toledo 
Street alone ! 

Thus there is plenty of most original entertainment, if 
only one will live with the people : it is so natural, that one 
almost becomes natural one's self. For this is the original 
birthplace of Pulcinello. the true national mask, — the Har- 
lequin of Pergamo, and the Hanswursl of the Tyrol. This 
Pulcinello. now. is a thoroughly easy, sedate, somewhat indif- 
ferent, perhaps lazy, and yet humorous fellow. And so one 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 261 

meets everywhere with a " Kellner " and a " Hausknecht." 
AVith ours I had special fun yesterday, and yet there was 
nothing more than my sending him to fetch some paper and 
pens. A half misunderstanding, a little loitering, good 
humor and roguery, produced a most amusing scene, which 
might be very successfully brought out on any stage. 

Naples, 
Tuesday, March 20, 1787. 

The news that an eruption of lava had just commenced, 
which, taking the direction of Ottajano, was invisible at 
Naples, tempted me to visit Vesuvius for the third time. 
Scarcely had I jumped out of my cabriolet (zweiradrigen 
einpferdigen Fuhrwerk), at the foot of the mountain, when 
immediately appeared the two guides who had accompanied 
us on our previous ascent. I had no wish to do without 
either, but took one out of gratitude and custom, the other 
for reliance on his judgment, and the two for the greater 
convenience. Having ascended the summit, the older guide 
remained with our cloaks and refreshment, while the younger 
followed me ; and we boldly went straight towards a dense 
volume of smoke, which broke forth from the bottom of the 
funnel : then we quickly went downwards by the side of it, 
till at last, under the clear heaven, we distinctly saw the 
lava emitted from the rolling clouds of smoke. 

We may hear an object spoken of a thousand times, but 
its peculiar features will never be caught till we see it with 
our own eyes. The stream of lava was narrow, not broader 
perhaps than ten feet, but the way in which it flowed down 
a gentle and tolerably smooth plain was remarkable. As it 
flowed along, it cooled both on the sides and on the surface, 
so that it formed a sort of canal, the bed of which was con- 
tinually raised in consequence of the molten mass congealing 
even beneath the fiery stream, which, with uniform action, 
precipitated right and left the scoria which were floating on 
its surface. In this way a regular dam was at length thrown 
up, which the glowing stream flowed on as quietly as any 
mill-stream. We passed along the tolerably high dam, 
while the scoria rolled regularly off the sides at our feet. 
Some cracks in the canal afforded opportunity of looking 
at the living stream from below; and, as it rushed onward, 
we observed it from above. 

A very bright sun made the glowing lava look dull, but a 
moderate steam rose from it into the pure air. I felt a great 



262 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

desire to go nearer to the point where it broke out from the 
mountain : there, my guide averred, it at once formed vaults 
and roofs above itself, on which he had often stood. To 
see and experience this phenomenon, we again ascended the 
hill, in order to come from behind to this point. Fortu- 
nately at this moment the place was cleared by a pretty 
strong wind, but not entirely, for all round it the smoke 
eddied from a thousand crannies ; and now we actually 
stood on the top of the solid roof, which looked like a hard- 
ened mass of twisted dough, but projected so far outward, 
that it was impossible to see the welling lava. 

We ventured about twenty steps farther ; but the ground 
on which we stepped became hotter and hotter, while around 
us rolled an oppressive steam, which obscured and hid the 
sun. The guide, who was a few steps in advance of me, 
presently turned back, and, siezing hold of me, hurried out 
of this Stygian exhalation. 

After we had refreshed our eyes with the clear prospect, 
and washed our gums and throat with wine, we went round 
again to notice any other peculiarities which might charac- 
terize this peak of hell, thus rearing itself in the midst of a 
paradise. I again observed attentively some chasms, in 
appearance like so many Vulcanic forges, which emitted no 
smoke, but continually shot out a steam of hot, glowing 
air. They were all tapestried, as it were, with a kind of 
stalactite, which covered the funnel to the top with its 
knobs and chintz-like variation of colors. In consequence 
of the irregularity of the forges, I found many specimens 
of this sublimation hano-mo- within reach, so that, with our 
staves and a little contrivance, we were able to hack off a 
few and secure them. I had seen in the shop of the lava- 
dealer similar specimens, labelled simply " Lava ; " and was 
delighted to have discovered that it was volcanic soot precip- 
itated from the hot vapor, and distinctly exhibiting the subli- 
mated mineral particles it contained. 

The most glorious sunset, a heavenly evening, refreshed 
me on my return : still, I felt how all great contrasts con- 
found the mind and senses. From the terrible to the beau- 
tiful — from the beautiful to the terrible: each destroys the 
other, and produces a feeling of indifference. Assuredly, 
the Neapolitan would be quite a different creature, did he 
not feel himself thus hemmed in between Elysium and Tar- 
tarus. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 263 

Naples, March 22, 1787. 

Were I not impelled b} 7 the German spirit and desire to 
learn and do rather than to enjoy, I should tarry a little 
longer in this school of a light-hearted and merry life, and 
try to profit by it still more. Here it is enough for content- 
ment, if a man has never so small an income. The situation 
of the city, the mildness of the climate, can never be suffi- 
ciently extolled ; but it is almost exclusively to these that the 
stranger is referred. 

No doubt one who has abundance of time, tact, and means, 
might remain here for a long time with profit to himself. 
Thus Sir William Hamilton has contrived highly to enjoy a 
long residence in this city, and now, in the evening of his life, 
is reaping the fruits of it. The rooms, which he has had fur- 
nished in the English style, are most delightful, and the view 
from the corner room perhaps unique. Below you is the sea, 
with a view of Capri ; Posilippo on the right, with the prom- 
enade of Villa Real between you and the grotto ; on the left an 
ancient building belonging to the Jesuits ; and beyond it the 
coast stretching from Sorrento to Cape Minerva. Another 
prospect equal to this is scarcely to be found in Europe, — at 
least, not in the centre of a great and populous city. 

Hamilton is a person of universal taste, and, after having 
wandered through the whole realm of creation, has found 
rest at last in a most beautiful wife, a masterpiece of the 
great artist, — Nature. 

And now after all this, and a hundred-fold more of enjoy- 
ment, the Sirens from over the sea are beckoning me ; and if 
the wind is favorable, I shall start at the same time with 
this letter, — it for the north, I for the south. The human 
mind will not be confined to any limits : I especially require 
breadth and extent in an eminent degree ; however, I must 
content myself on this occasion with a rapid survey, and 
must not think of a long, fixed look. If by hearing and 
thinking, I can only attain to as much of any object as a 
finger's tip, I shall be able to make out the whole hand. 

Singularly enough, within these few days a friend has 
spoken to me of " Wilhelm Meister," and urged me to con- 
tinue it. In this climate I don't think it possible : however, 
something of the air of this heaven may, perhaps, be im- 
parted to the closing books. May my existence only unfold 
itself sufficiently to Lengthen tin; stem, and to produce richer 
and finer flowers! Certainly it were better for me never to 
have to come here at all, than to go away unregenerated. 



264 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Yesterday we saw a picture of Correggio's, which is for 
sale. It is not, indeed, in ve it good preservation : however, 
it still retains the happiest stamp of all the peculiar charms 
of this painter. It represents a Madonna, with the infant 
hesitating between the breast and some pears which an angel 
is offering it: the subject, therefore, is the weaning of 
Christ. To me the idea appears extremely tender ; the 
composition easy and natural, and happily and charmingly 
executed. It immediately reminded me of the Vow of St. 
Catherine ; and, in 1113' opinion, the painting is unquestion- 
ably from the hand of Correggio. 

Naples, 
Friday, March 23, 1787. 

The terms of my engagement with Kniep are now settled, 
and it has commenced in a right practical way. We went 
together to Passtum, where, and also on our journey thither 
and back, he showed the greatest industry with his pencil. 
He has made some of the most glorious outlines. He seems 
to relish this moving but busy sort of life, which has called 
forth a talent he w r as scarcely conscious of. This comes of 
being resolute, but it is exactly here that his accurate and 
nice skill shows itself. He never stops to surround the 
paper on which he is about to draw, with the usual rectangu- 
lar lines : however, he seems to take as much pleasure in 
cutting points to his pencil, which is of the best English 
lead, as in drawing itself. Thus his outlines are just what 
one would wish them to be. 

Now we have come to the following arrangement : From 
this day forward, we are to live and travel together ; while 
he is to have nothing to trouble himself about but draw- 
ing, as he has done for the last few days. 

All the sketches are to be mine : but in order to a further 
profit, after our return from our connection, he is to finish 
for a certain sum, a number of them, which I am to select ; 
and then, remuneration for the others is to be settled ac- 
cording to his skill, the importance of the views taken, and 
other considerations. This arrangement has made me quite 
happy ; and now at last I can give you an account of our 
journey. 

Sitting in a light two-wheeled carriage, and driving in 
turn, with a rough, good-natured boy behind, we rolled 
through the glorious country, which Kniep greeted with a 
true artistic eye. We now reached the mountain stream, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 265 

which, running along a smooth, artificial channel, skirts 
most delightful rocks and woods. At last, in the district of 
Alia Cava, Kniep could not contain himself, but set to work 
to fix on paper a splendid mountain, which right before us 
stood out boldly against the blue sky ; and with a clever and 
characteristic touch drew the outlines of the summit, with 
the sides also, down to its very base. We both made merry 
with it, as the earnest of our contract. 

A similar sketch was taken in the evening, from the win- 
dow, of a singularly lovely and rich country, which passes 
all my powers of description. Who would not have been 
disposed to study at such a spot, in those bright times, when 
a high school of art was flourishing? Very early in the 
morning we set off by an untrodden path, coming occasion- 
ally on marshy spots, towards two beautifully shaped hills. 
We crossed brooks and pools, where the wild bulls, like hip- 
popotamuses, were wallowing, and looking upon us with their 
wild, red eyes. 

The country grew flatter, and more desolate : the scarcity 
of the buildings bespoke a sparing cultivation. At last, 
when we were doubting whether we were passing through 
rocks or ruins, some great oblong masses enabled us to dis- 
tinguish the remains of temples, and other monuments of a 
once splendid city. Kniep, who had already sketched on 
the way the two picturesque limestone hills, suddenly stopped 
to And a spot from which to seize and exhibit the peculiarity 
of this most unpicturesque country. 

A countryman, whom I took for my guide, led me, mean- 
while, through the buildings. The first sight of them excited 
nothing but astonishment. I found myself in a perfectly 
strange world ; for, as centuries pass from the severe to the 
pleasing, they form man's taste at the same time, — indeed, 
create him after the same law. But now our eyes, and 
through them our whole inner being, have been used to, and 
decidedly prepossessed in favor of, a lighter style of archi- 
tecture ; so that these crowded masses of stumpy conical 
pillars appear heavy, not to say frightful. But I soon recol- 
lected myself, called to mind the history of art, thought of 
the times when the spirit of the age was in unison with this 
style of architecture, and realized the severe style of sculp- 
ture ; and in less than an hour found myself reconciled to 
it, — nay, I went so far as to thank my genius for permitting 
me to see, with my own eyes, such well-preserved remains, 
since drawings give us no true idea of them ; for in archi- 



266 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

tectural sketches thc} T seem more elegant, and in perspec- 
tive views even more stumpy, than they actually are. It is 
only by going round them, and passing through them, that 
you can impart to them their real character : you evoke for 
them, not to say infuse into them, the very feeling which the 
architect had in contemplation. And thus I spent the whole 
day, Kniep the while working away most diligently in taking- 
very accurate sketches. How delighted was I to be exempt 
from that care, and yet to acquire such unfailing tokens for 
the aid of memory ! Unfortunately, there was no accom- 
modation for spending the night here. We returned to 
Sorrento, and started early next morning for Naples. Vesu- 
vious, seen from the back, is a rich country : poplars, with 
their colossal pyramids, on the road-side, in the fore-ground. 
These, too, formed an agreeable feature, which we halted a 
moment to take. 

We now reached an eminence. The most extensive area 
in the world opened before us. Naples, in all its splendor : 
its mile-long line of houses on the flat shore of the bay ; 
the promontories, tongues of land and walls of rock ; then 
the islands; and, behind all, the sea; — the whole was a 
ravishing sight ! 

A most hideous singing, or rather exulting cry and howl 
of joy, from the boy behind, frightened and disturbed us. 
Somewhat angrily I called out to him : he had never had any 
harsh words from us, — he had been a very good boy. 

For a while he did not move ; then he patted me lightly on 
the shoulder, and pushing between us both his right arm, 
with the fore-finger stretched out, exclaimed, " Signor, per- 
donate ! questa e la mia 2 K ^ r ^ a -" — which, being inter- 
preted, runs, " Forgive me, sir, for that is my native land ! ' 
And so I was ravished a second time. Something like a tear 
stood in the eyes of the phlegmatic child of the North. 

Naples, March 25, 1787. 
Although I saw that Kniep was delighted to go with me 
to the Festival of the Annunciation, still I could not fail to 
observe that there was something he was sorry to part from. 
His candor could not let him conceal from me long the fact, 
that he had formed here a close and faithful attachment. It 
was a pretty tale to listen to, — the story of their first meeting, 
and the description of the fair one's beha\ T ior up to this time, 
told in her favor. Kniep, moreover, insisted on my going 
and seeing for myself how pretty she really was. Accord- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 267 

ingly, an opportunity was contrived, and so as to afford me 
the enjoyment of one the most agreeable views over Naples. 
He took me to the flat roof of a house which commanded a 
survey of the lower town, near the Mole, the bay, and the 
shore of Sorrento. All that lay beyond on the left became 
fore-shortened in the strangest way possible ; and which, 
except from this particular spot, was never witnessed. Na- 
ples is everywhere beautiful and glorious. 

While we were admiring the country, suddenly (although 
expected) a very beautiful face presented itself above the 
roof, — for the entrance to these flat roofs is generally an 
oblong opening in the roof, which can be covered, when not 
used, by a trap-door. While, then, the little angel appeared 
in full figure above the opening, it occurred to me that 
ancient painters usually represent the Annunciation by 'mak- 
ing the angel ascend by a similar trap-door. But the angel 
on this occasion was really of a very fine form, of a very 
pretty face, and a good natural carriage. It was a real joy 
to me to see my new friend so happy beneath this magnifi- 
cent sky, and in presence of the finest prospect in the world. 
After her departure, he confessed to me that he had hitherto 
voluntarily endured poverty, as by that means he had en- 
joyed her love and, at the same time, had learned to appre- 
ciate her contented disposition ; and now his better prospects 
and improved condition were chiefly prized, because they 
procured him the means for making her days more comfort- 
able. 

After this pleasant little incident T walked on the shore, 
calm and happy There a good insight into botanical mat- 
ters opened on me. Tell Herder that I am very near finding 
the primal vegetable type ; only I fear that no one will be 
able to trace in it the rest of the vegetable kingdom. My 
famous theory of the cotyledons is so refined, that perhaps it 
is impossible to go farther with it. 

Naples, March 2G, 1787. 
To-morrow this letter will leave this for you. On Thurs- 
day, the 29th, I go to Palermo in the corvette, which for- 
merly in my ignorance of sea matters, I promoted to the rank 
of a frigate. The doubt whether I should go or remain made 
me unsettled even in the use of my stay here : now I have 
made up my mind, things go on better. For my mental state 
this journey is salutary, — indeed, necessary. I see Sicily 



268 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

pointing to Africa, and to Asia, and to the wonderful, 
whither so many rays of the world's history are directed: 
even to stand still is no trifle ! 

I have treated Naples quite in its own style : I have been 
any thing but industrious. And yet I have seen a great deal, 
and formed a pretty general idea of the land, its inhabitants, 
and condition. On my return, there is much that I shall have 
to go over again, — indeed, only " go over," for b}* the 29th 
of June I must be in Rome again. As I have missed the 
Holy Week, I must not fail to be present at the festivities of 
St. Peter's Day. My Sicilian expedition must not altogether 
draw me off from my original plan. 

The day before yesterday we had a violent storm, with 
thunder, lightning, and rain. Now it is clear again : a glo- 
rious Tramontane is blowing ; if it lasts we shall have a rapid 
passage. 

Yesterday I went with my fellow-traveller to see the vessel, 
and to take our cabin. A sea- voyage is utterly out of the 
pale of my ideas : this short trip, which will probably be a 
mere sail along the coast, will help my imagination, and en- 
large my world. The captain is a young, lively fellow ; the 
ship, trim and clean, built in America, and a good sailer. 

Here every spot begins to look green : Sicily, they tell me, 
I shall find still more so. By the time you get this letter f 
shall be on my return, leaving Trinacria behind me. Such is 
man ; he is always either anticipating or recalling : I have 
not yet been there ; and yet I now am, in thought, back 
again with you ! However, for the confusion of this letter 1 
am not to blame. Every moment I am interrupted ; and yet 
I would, if possible, fill this sheet to the very corner. 

Just now I have had a visit from a Marchese Berio, a young 
man who appears to be well informed. He was anxious to 
make the acquaintance of the author of " Werther." Gen- 
erally, indeed, the people here evince a great desire for, and 
delight in, learning and accomplishments ; only they are too 
happy to go the right way to acquire them. Had I more 
time, I would willingly devote it to observing the Neapoli- 
tans. These four weeks — what are they compared with the 
endless variety of life ? 

Now, farewell. On these travels I have learnt one thing 
at least, — how to travel well : whether I am learning to live 
I know not. The men who pretend to understand that art, 
are, in nature and manner, too widely different from me for 
setting up any claim to such a talent. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 269 

Farewell, and love me as sincerely as I from my heart re- 
member you. 

Naples, March 28, 1787. 

These few days have been entirely passed in packing and 
leave-taking ; with making all necessary arrangements, and 
paying bills ; looking for missing articles ; and with prepara- 
tions of all kinds. I set the time down as lost. 

The Prince of Walbeck has, just at my departure, unset- 
tled me again. For he has been talking of nothing less than 
that I should arrange, on my return, to go with him to 
Greece and Dalmatia. When one enters once into the world 
and takes up with it, let him beware lest he be driven aside, 
not to say driven mad by it. I am utterly incapable of add- 
ing another syllable. 

Naples, March 29, 1787. 
For some days the weather has been very unsettled. To- 
day (the appointed time for our sailing) it is again as fine 
as possible ; a favorable north wind ; a bright sunny sky, 
beneath which one wishes one's self in the wide world. 
Now I bid an affectionate farewell to all my friends in Wei- 
mar and Gotha. Your love accompanies me, for wherever 
I am I feel my need of you. Last night I dreamt I was 
again among - old familiar faces. It seems as if I could not 
unload my boat of pheasants' feathers anywhere but among 
you. May it be well loaded ! 



SICILY. 

Thursday, March 29, 1787 
A fresh and favorable breeze from the north-east is not 
blowing this time, as it did at the last sailing of the packet. 
But, unfortunately, a direct head-wind comes from the oppo- 
site quarter, the south-west, — and so we are experiencing to 
our cost how much the navigator depends upon the caprice of 
the wind and weather. Out of all patience, we whiled away 
the morning either on the shore or in the coffee-house: at 
last, at noon we went on board ; and, the weather being ex- 
tremely fine, we enjoyed the most glorious view. The cor- 
vette lay at anchor near to the Mole. With an unclouded 



270 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

sun, the atmosphere was hazy ; giving to the rocky walls of 
Sorrento, which were in the shade, a tint of most beautiful 
blue. Naples, with its living multitudes, lay in the full sun- 
shine, and glittered brilliantly with countless tints. Jt was 
not until sunset that the vessel began slowly to move from 
her moorings : then the wind, which was contrary, drove us 
over to Posilippo and its promontory. All night long the 
ship went quietly on its way. She is a swift sailer, was built 
in America, and is well fitted with cabins and berths. The 
passengers cheerful but not boisterous, — opera singers and 
dancers, consigned to Palermo. 

Friday, March 30, 1787. 

By daybreak we found ourselves between Ischia and Capri, 
— perhaps not more than a mile from the latter. The sun 
rose from behind the mountains of Capri and Cape Minerva. 
Kniep diligently sketched the outlines of the coasts and the 
islands, and took several beautiful views. The slowness of 
the passage was favorable to his labors. AVe were making 
our way but slowly under a light side-wind. We lost sight 
of Vesuvius about four, just as we came in view of Cape 
Minerva and Ischia. These, too, disappeared about even- 
ing. The sun set in the sea, attended with clouds and a 
long streak of light reaching for miles, all of a brilliant pur- 
ple. This phenomenon was also sketched by Kniep. At 
last we lost sight altogether of the land ; and the watery 
horizon surrounded us, the night being clear, with lovely 
moonlight. 

These beautiful sights, however, I could only enjoy for a 
few moments, for I was soon attacked with sea-sickness. 
I betook myself to my cabin, chose a horizontal position, 
and abstaining from all meat or drink, except white bread 
and red wine, soon found myself pretty comfortable again. 
Shut out from the external world, I let the internal have full 
sway ; and, as a tedious vo}'age was to be anticipated, I im- 
mediately set nryself a heavy task in order to while away the 
time profitably. Of all my papers. I had only brought with 
me the first two acts of kw Tasso," written in poetic prose. 
These two acts, as regards their plan and evolution, were 
nearly similar to the present ones, but, written full ten years 
ago, had a somewhat soft and misty tone, which soon disap- 
peared while, m accordance with my later notions, I made 
form more predominant, and introduced more of rhythm. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 271 

Saturday, March 31, 1787. 

The sun rose this morning from the water quite clear. 
About seven we overtook a French vessel, which had left 
Naples two days before us, so much the better sailor was 
our vessel : still we had no prospect as yet of the end of our 
passage. We were somewhat cheered by the sight of Ustica, 
but, unfortunately, on our left, when we ought to have had 
it, like Capri, on our right. Towards noon the wind became 
directly contrary, and we did not make the least way. The 
sea began to get rough, and every one in the ship was sick. 

I kept in my usual position ; and the whole play was 
thought over and over, and through and through again. The 
hours passed away ; and I should not have noticed how they 
went, but for the roguish Kniep, on whose appetite the waves 
had no influence. When, from time to time, he brought me 
some wine and some bread, he took a mischievous delight in 
expatiating on the excellent dinner in the cabin, the cheer- 
fulness and good nature of our young but clever captain, 
and on his regrets that I was unable to enjoy m} r share of it. 
So, likewise, the transition from joke and merriment to 
qualmishness and sickness, and the various ways in which 
the latter manifested themselves in the different passengers, 
afforded him rich materials for humorous description. 

At four in the afternoon the captain altered the course of 
our vessel. The mainsails were again set ; and we steered 
direct for Ustica, behind which, to our great joy, we dis- 
cerned the mountains of Sicily. The wind improved ; and we 
bore rapidly towards Sicily, and a few little islands appeared 
in view. The sunset was murky, the light of heaven being 
veiled beneath a mist. The wind was pretty fair for the 
whole of the evening : towards midnight the sea became very 
rough. 

Sunday, April 1, 1787. 
About three in the morning a violent storm. Flalf asleep 
and dreaming, I went on with the plan of my drama. In 
the mean time there was great commotion on deck : the sails 
were all taken in, and the vessel pitched on the top of the 
waves. As day broke, the storm abated, and the sky cleared. 
Now Ustica lay right on our left. They pointed out to me 
a large turtle swimming a great distance off : by my tele- 
scope I could easily discern it as a living point. Towards 
noon we were clearly able to distinguish the coast of Sicily, 
with its headlands and bays ; but we had got very far to the 



272 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

leeward, and tacked on and off. Towards mid-day we came 
nearer to the shore. The weather being clear, and the sun 
shining bright, we saw quite distinctly the western coast, from 
the promontory of Lilybaeum to Cape Gallo. 

A shoal of dolphins attended our ship on both bows, and 
continually shot ahead. It was amusing to watch them as 
they swam along, covered by the clear, transparent waves at 
one time, and at another springing above the water, showing 
their fins and spine-ridged back, with their sides playing in 
the light, from gold to green, and from green to gold. 

As the land was direct on our lee, the captain lay to in a 
bay behind Cape Gallo. Kniep failed not to seize the oppor- 
tunity to sketch the many beautiful scenes somewhat in detail. 
Towards sunset the captain made again for the open sea, 
steering north-east, in order to make the heights of Palermo. 
I ventured several times on deck, but never intermitted for a 
moment my poetical labors ; and thus I became pretty well 
master of the whole play. With a cloudy sky, a bright but 
broken moonlight, the reflection on the sea was infinitely 
beautiful. Painters, in order to heighten the effect, generally 
lead us to believe that the reflection of the heavenly lumi- 
naries on the water has its greatest breadth nearest to the 
spectator, where it also possesses its greatest brilliancy. On 
this occasion, however, the reflection was broadest at the 
horizon, and, like a sharp pyramid, ended with sparkling 
waves close to the ship. During the night our captain again 
frequently changed the tack. 

Monday, April 2, 1787. 
This morning, about eight o'clock, we found ourselves 
over against Palermo. The morning seemed to me highly 
delightful. During the days that I had been shut up in 
my cabin, I had got on pretty well with the plan of my 
drama. I felt quite well now, and was able to stay on deck, 
and observe attentively the Sicilian coast. Kniep went on 
sketching away ; and by his accurate, but rapid pencil, many 
a sheet of paper was converted into highly valuable memen- 
tos of our landing, for which, however, we had still to 
wait. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 273 

PALERMO. 

Monday, April 2, 1787. 

By three o'clock r.M., we at last, after much trouble and 
difficulty, got into harbor, where a most glorious view lay 
before us. Perfectly recovered from my sea-sickness, I en- 
joyed it highly. The town, facing north, lay at the foot of 
a high hill, with the sun (at this time of day) shining above 
it. The sides of the buildings which looked towards us lay 
iu a deep shade, which, however, was clear, and lit up by the 
reflection from the water. On our right Monte Pellegrino, 
with its many elegant outlines, in full light ; on the left the 
coast, with its bays, isthmuses, and headlands, stretching 
far away into the distance ; and the most agreeable effect 
was produced by the fresh green of some fine trees, whose 
crowns, lit up from behind, swayed from side to side before 
the dark buildings, like great masses of glow-worms. A 
brilliant haze gave a blueish tint to all the shades. 

Instead of hurrying impatiently on shore, we remained on 
deck till we were actually forced to land ; for where could 
we hope soon to find a position equal to this, or so favora- 
ble a point of view ? 

Through the singular gateway, — which consists of two 
vast pillars, which are left unconnected above, in order that 
the towering car of St. Rosalie may be able to pass through, 
on her famous festival, — we were driven into the city, and 
alighted almost immediately at a large hotel on our left. 
The host, an old, decent person, long accustomed to see 
strangers of every nation and tongue, conducted us into a 
large room, the balcony of which commanded a view of the 
sea, with the roadstead, where we recognized our ship, 
Monte Rosalie, and the beach, and were enabled to form 
an idea of our whereabouts. Highly satisfied with the posi- 
tion of our room, we did not for some time observe, that at 
the farther end of it was an alcove, slightly raised, and con- 
cealed by curtains, in which was a most spacious bed, with 
a magnificent' canopy and curtains of silk, in perfect keeping 
with the other stately, but old-fashioned furniture of our 
apartment. This display of splendor made me uneasy ; so, 
as my custom was, I wished to make an agreement with my 
host. To this the old man replied, that conditions were un- 
necessary, and he trusted I should have nothing to complain 
of in him. We were also at liberty to make use of the ante- 



274 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

room, which was next to our apartment, and cool, airy, and 
agreeable from its many balconies. 

We amused ourselves with the endless variety of views, 
and endeavored to sketch them, one by one, in pencil or in 
colors ; for here the eye fell upon a plentiful harvest for the 
artist. 

In the evening the lovely moonlight attracted us once 
more to the roadstead, and even after our return riveted us 
for some time on the balcony. The light was peculiar, the 
repose and loveliness of the scene were extreme. 

Palermo, 
Tuesday, April 3, 1787. 

Our first business was to examine the city, which is easy 
enough to survey, but difficult to know ; easy, because a 
street a mile long from the lower to the upper gate, from 
the sea to the mountain, intersects it, and is itself again 
crossed, nearly in its middle, by another. Whatever lies on 
these two great lines is easily found ; but in the inner streets 
a stranger soon loses himself, and, without a guide, will never 
extricate himself from their lab3~rinths. 

Towards evening our attention was directed to the long 
line of carriages (of the well-known build) in which the 
principal persons of the neighborhood were taking their 
evening drive from the city to the beach, for the sake of the 
fresh air, amusement, and perhaps also for intrigue. 

It was full moon about two hours before midnight, and 
the evening was in consequence indescribably glorious. The 
northerly position of Palermo produces a very strange effect : 
as the city and shore come between the sun and the harbor, 
its reflection is never observed on the waves. On this 
account, though this was one of the brightest days, I found 
the sea of a deep blue color, solemn, and oppressive ; 
whereas, at Naples, from the time of noon it gets brighter 
and brighter, and glitters with more airy lightness and to a 
greater distance. 

Kniep has to-day left me to make my pilgrimages and 
observations by myself, in order that he might accurately 
sketch the outline of Monte Pellegrino, the most beautiful 
headland in the whole world. 

Here, again, I must put a few things together, something 
in the way of an appendix, and with the carelessness of 
familiarity. 



LETTERS FROM ITAEY. 275 

At sunset of the 20th of March we left Naples, and 
after only a passage of four days and three hours cast 
anchor in the harbor of Palermo. The little diary which I 
enclose will give an account of ourselves and our fortunes. 
I never entered on a journey so calmly as on this, and have 
never had a more quiet time of it than during our passage, 
which a constant headwind has unusually prolonged, even 
though I passed the time chiefly on my bed, in a close little 
berth, to which I was obliged to keep during the first da}', in 
consequence of a violent attack of sea-sickness. Now my 
thoughts pass over towards you ; for if ever any thing has 
exercised a decided influence on my mind, this voyage has 
certainly done so. 

He who has never seen himself surrounded on all sides by 
the sea, can never possess an idea of the world and of his 
own relation to it. As a landscape-painter, I have received 
entirely new ideas from this great simple line. 

During our voyage we had, as the diary records, many 
changes, and, on a small scale experienced all a sailor's 
fortunes. However, the safety and convenience of the 
packet-boat cannot be sufficiently commended. Our captain 
is a very brave and an extremely handsome man. My 
fellow-passengers consisted of a whole theatrical troop, well 
mannered, tolerable, and agreeable. My artist, who accom- 
panies me, is a merry, true-hearted fellow. In order to 
shorten the weaiy hours of the passage, he has explained to 
me all the mechanical part of aqiiarell, or painting in water- 
colors, an art which has been carried to a great height of 
perfection in Italy. He thoroughly understands the use of 
particular colors for effecting certain tones, to produce 
which, without knowing the secret, one might go on mixing 
forever. I had, it is true, learned a good deal of it in 
Rome, but never before so systematically. The artists must 
have studied and perfected the art in a country like Italy or 
this. No words can express the hazy brilliancy which 
hung around the coasts, as on a most beautiful noon we 
neared Palermo. He who has once seen it will never forget 
it. Now, at last, I can understand Claude Lorraine, and can 
cherish a hope that hereafter, in the North, I shall be able to 
produce, from my soul, at least a faint idea of these glorious 
abodes. Oh that only all littleness had departed from it as 
entirely as the little charm of thatched roofs has vanished 
from among m}' ideas of what a drawing should be ! We 
shall see what this " Queen of Islands " can do. 



276 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

No words can express the welcome — with its fresh green 
mulberry trees, evergreen oleanders, and hedges of citron, 
etc. In the open gardens, you see large beds of ranuncu- 
luses and anemones. The air is mild, warm, and fragrant ; 
the wind refreshing. The full moon, too, rose from behind 
a promontory, and shone upon the sea ; and this joyous 
scene after being tossed about four days and nights on the 
waves ! 

Forgive me if, with the stump of a pen, and the Indian- 
ink my fellow-traveller uses for his sketches, I scribble 
down these remarks. I send them to you as a faint lisping 
murmur ; since I am preparing for all that love me another 
record of these, my happy hours. What it is to be I say 
not ; and when you wifl receive it, that also it is out of my 
power to tell. 

This letter must, as far as possible, impart to you, my 
dearest friends, a high treat : it is intended to convey to you 
a description of an unrivalled bay, embracing a vast mass 
of waters. Beginning from the east, where a flatfish head- 
land runs far out into the sea, it is dotted with many rugged, 
beautifully shaped, wood-crowned rocks, until it reaches the 
fishing-huts of the suburbs ; then the town itself, the fore- 
most houses of which (and among them our own hotel) all 
look towards the harbor and the great gate by which we 
entered. . 

Then it stretches westward, and passing the usual land- 
ing-place, where vessels of smaller burden can touch, comes 
next to what is properly the harbor, near the Mole, which is 
the station of all larger vessels ; and then, at the western 
point, to protect the shipping, rises Monte Pellegrino, with 
its beautiful contour, after leaving between it and the main- 
land a lovely fertile valley, which at its other end again 
reaches the sea. 

Kniep sketched away. I took, with my mind's eye, the 
plan of the country (ich schematisirte) , with great delight; 
and now, glad to have reached home again, we feel neither 
strength nor energy to tell a long story, and to go into 
particulars. Our endeavors must, therefore, be reserved 
for a future occasion ; and this sheet must serve to convince 
you of our inability adequately to seize these objects, or 
rather of our presumption in thinking to grasp and master 
them in so short a time. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 277 

Palermo, 

Wednesday, April 4, 1787. 

In the afternoon we paid a visit to the fertile and delight- 
ful valley at the foot of the Southern Mountains, running 
by Palermo, and through which the Oreto meanders. Here, 
too, is a call for the painter's eye, and a practised hand to 
convey an idea of it. Kniep, however, hastily siezed an 
excellent point of view, at a spot where the pent-up water 
was dashing down from a half-broken weir, and was shaded 
by a lovely group of trees, behind which an uninterrupted 
prospect opened up the valley, affording a view of several 
form buildings. 

Beautiful spring weather, and a budding luxuriance, dif- 
fused over the whole valley a refreshing feeling of peace, 
which our stupid guide marred by his ill-timed erudition ; 
telling us that in former days Hannibal had fought a battle 
here, and circumstantially detailing all the dreadful feats of 
war which had been perpetrated on the spot. In no friendly 
mood I reproved him for thus fatally calling up again such 
departed spectres. It was bad enough, I said, that from 
time to time the crops should be trodden down, if not by 
elephants, yet by men and horses. At any rate, it was not 
right to scare away the peaceful dreams of imagination by 
reviving such tumults and horrors. 

The guide was greatly surprised that I could, on such a 
spot, despise classical reminiscences ; nor could I make him 
understand how greatly such a mingling of the past with the 
present displeased me. 

Still more singular did our guide deem me, when at all 
the shallow places, of which a great many are -left dry by 
the stream, I searched for pebbles, and carried off with me 
specimens of each sort. I again found it difficult to make 
him understand that there was no readier way of forming an 
idea of a mountainous district like that before us, than by 
examining the nature of the stones which are washed down 
by the streams ; and that in so doing, the purpose was to 
acquire a right notion of those eternally classic heights of 
the ancient world. 

And, indeed, my gains from this stream were large 
enough : I carried away nearly forty specimens, which, how- 
ever, may be comprised under a few classes. Most of these 
were of a species of rock, which, in one respect, might be 
regarded as a sort of jasper or hornblende ; in another, 
looked like clay-slate. I found some pebbles rounded, others 



278 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

of a rhomboidal shape, others of irregular forms and of 
various colors : moreover, many varieties of the primeval 
limestone ; not a few specimens of breccia, of which the sub- 
stratum was lime, and holding jasper or modifications of 
limestone ; rubbles of muschelkalk were not wanting either. 

The horses here are fed on barley, cut straw (hackerling) , 
and clover. In spring they give them the green barley, in 
order to refresh them, — per rinfrescar is the phrase. As 
there are no meadows here, they have no hay. On the hill- 
sides there are some pasture-lands ; and also in the corn- 
fields, as a third is always left fallow. They keep but few 
sheep, and these are of a breed from Barbary. On the 
whole, they have more mules than horses, because the hot 
food suits the former better than the latter. 

The plain on which Palermo is situated, as well as the dis- 
tricts of Ai Colli, which lie without the city, and a part also 
of Baggaria, have for their basis the muschelkalk, of which 
the city is built. There are, for this purpose, extensive 
quarries of it in the neighborhood. In one place, near 
Monte Pellegrino, they are more than fifty feet deep. The 
lower layers are of a whiter hue. In it are found many pet- 
rified corals and other shell-fish, but principally great scal- 
lops. The upper stratum is mixed with red marl, and con- 
tains but few, if any, fossils. Right above it lies the red 
marl, of which, however, the layer is not very stiff. 

Monte Pellegrino, however, rises out of all this. It is a 
primary limestone, has many hollows and fissures, which, 
although very irregular, when closely observed are found to 
follow the order of the strata. The stone is close, and rings 
when struck. 

Palermo, 
Thursday, April 5, 1787. 

We have gone carefully through the city. The style of 
architecture resembles for the most part that of Naples ; but 
the public buildings, for instance the fountains, are still fur- 
ther removed from good taste. Here there is no artistic 
mind to regulate the public works : the edifices owe both 
their shape and existence to chance. A fountain, which is 
the admiration of the whole island, would, perhaps, never 
have existed, had not Sicily furnished a beautiful variegated 
marble, and had not a sculptor well practised in animal 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 279 

shapes happened to be in favor precisely at the time. It 
would be a difficult matter to describe this fountain. In a 
moderately sized site stands a round piece of masonry, not 
quite a staff high (Stock hoch) . The socle, the wall, and 
the cornice are of variegated marble. In the wall are several 
niches in a row, from which animals of all kinds, in white 
marble, are looking with stretched-out necks. Horses, lions, 
camels, and elephants, are interchanged one with another ; 
and one scarcely expects to find, within the circle of this 
menagerie, a fountain, to which, through four openings, 
marble steps lead you down to draw from the water, which 
flows in abundance. 

The same nearly may be said of the churches, in which 
even the Jesuits' love of show and finery is surpassed, but 
not from design or plan, but by accident, — just as artist 
after artist, whether sculptor, carver, gilder, lackerer, or 
worker in marble, chose, without taste or rule, to display on 
each vacant spot their several abilities. 

Amidst all this, however, one cannot fail to recognize a 
certain talent in imitating natural objects : for instance, the 
heads of the animals around the fountains are very well exe- 
cuted. By this means it is, in truth, that the admiration of 
the multitude is excited, whose artistic gratification consists 
chiefly in comparing the imitation with its living prototype. 

Towards evening I made a merry acquaintance, as I en- 
tered the house of a small dealer in the Long Street, in order 
to purchase some trifles. As I stood before the window 
to look at the wares, a slight breeze arose, which eddying 
along the whole street, at last distributed through all the 
windows and doors the immense cloud of dust which it had 
raised. "By all the saints," I cried, " whence comes all the 
dust of your town? is there no helping it? In its length 
and beauty, this street vies with any in the Corso in Rome. 
On both sides a fine pavement, which each stall and shop 
holder keeps clean by interminable sweeping, but brushes 
every thing into the middle of the street, which is, in conse- 
quence, so much the dirtier, and with every breath of wind 
sends back to you the filth which has just before been swept 
into the roadway. In Naples busy donkeys carry off, day by 
day, the rubbish to the gardens and farms. Why should you 
not here contrive and establish some similar regulation? " 

" Things with us are as they are," he replied : "we throw 
every thing out of the house, and it rots before the door. 
You see here horse-dunsr and lilth of all kinds : it lies there 



280 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

and dries, and returns to us again in the shape of dust. 
Against it we are taking precautions all day long. But look, 
our pretty little and ever busy brooms, worn out at last, only 
go to increase the heap of filth before our doors." 

And oddly enough it was actually so. They had nothing 
but very little besoms of palm-branches, which, slightly 
altered, might have been really useful ; but as it was, they 
broke off easily, and the stumps were lying by thousands in 
the streets. To my repeated questioning, whether there was 
no board or regulations to prevent all this, he replied, kt A 
story is current among the people, that those whose duty it 
was to provide for the cleansing of our streets, being men of 
great power and influence, could not be compelled to disburse 
the money on its lawful objects." And, besides that, there 
was also the strange fact that certain parties feared that if 
the dirty straw and dung were swept away, every one would 
see how badly the pavement beneath was laid down ; and so 
the dishonesty of a second body would be thereby exposed. 
" All this, however," he remarked, with a most humorous 
expression, "is merely the interpretation which the ill-dis- 
posed put upon it." For his part, he was of the opinion of 
those who maintained that the nobles preserved this soft lit- 
ter for their carriages, in order that, when they take their 
drive for amusement in the evening, they might ride at ease 
over the elastic ground. And as the man was now in the 
humor, he joked away at many of the abuses of the police. 
— a consolatory proof to me that man has always humor 
enough to make merry with what he cannot help. 

St. Rosalie, the patron saint of Palermo, is so universally 
known, from the description which Brydonehas given of her 
festival, that it must assuredly be agreeable to my friends to 
read some account of the place and the spot where she is 
most particularly worshipped. 

Monte Pellegrino, a vast mass of rocks, of which the 
breadth is greater than the height, lies on the north-west ex- 
tremity of the Bay of Palermo. Its beautiful form admits 
not of being described by words : a most excellent view of it 
may be seen in the Voyage Pittoresqne cle la Sicile. It con- 
sists of n gray limestone of the earlier epoch. The rocks are 
quite barren ; not a tree nor a bush will grow on them : even 
the more smooth and level portions are but barely covered 
with grasses or mosses. 

In a cavern of this mountain, the bones of the saint were 
discovered, at th? beginning of the last century, and brought 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 281 

to Palermo. The presence of them delivered the city from a 
pestilence, and ever since S. Rosalie has been the patron 
saint of the people. Chapels have been bnilt in her honor, 
splendid festivals have been instituted. 

The pious and devout frequently made pilgrimages to the 
mountain ; and, in consequence, a road has been made to it, 
which, like an ancient aqueduct, rests on arches and columns, 
and ascends zigzag between the rocks. 

The place of worship is far more suitable to the humility 
of the saint who retired thither, than are the splendid festivi- 
ties which have been instituted in honor of her total renun- 
ciation of the world. And perhaps the wdiole of Christen- 
dom, which now, for eighteen hundred 3 T ears, has based its 
riches, pomps, and festival amusements, on the memory of 
its first founders and most zealous confessors, cannot point 
out a holy spot which has been adorned and rendered vener- 
able in so eminent and delightful a way. 

When you have ascended the mountain, you proceed to the 
corner of a rock, over against which there rises a high wall 
of stone. On this the church and the monastery are very 
finely situated. 

The exterior of the church has nothing promising or in- 
viting. You open its door without any high expectation, but 
on entering are ravished with wonder. You find yourself 
in a vast vestibule, which extends to the whole width of 
the church, and is open towards the nave. You see here the 
usual vessel of holy water and some confessionals. The nave 
is an open space, which on the right is bounded by the 
native rock, and on the left by the continuation of the vesti- 
bule It is paved with flat stones on a slight inclination, in 
order that the rain-water may run off. A small well stands 
nearly in the centre. 

The cave itself has been transformed into the choir, with- 
out, however, any of its rough natural shape being altered. 
Ascending a few steps, close upon them stands the choris- 
ters' desk with the choir-books, and on each side are the 
seats of the choristers. The whole is lighted by the day- 
light, which is admitted from the court or nave. Deep 
within, in the dark recesses of the cave, stands the high- 
altar. 

As already stated, no change has been made in the cave : 
only, as the rocks drip incessantly with water, it was neces- 
sary to keep the place dry. This has been effected by means 
of tin tubes, which are fastened to every projection of the 



282 LETTERS FROM ITALY, 

rock, and in various ways connected with each other. As 
they are broad above, and come to a narrow edge below, and 
are, moreover, painted of a dull green color, they give to 
the rock an appearance of being overgrown with a species 
of cactus. The water is conducted into a clear reservoir, 
out of which it is taken by the faithful as a remedy and 
preventative for every kind of ill. 

As I was narrowly observing all this, an ecclesiastic came 
up to me and asked whether I was a Genoese, and wished 
to have a few masses said. I replied upon this that I had 
come to Palermo with a Genoese, who would to-morrow, as 
it was a festival, come up to the shrine; but, as one of" us 
must always be at home, I had come up to-day in order to 
look about me. Upon this he observed, I was at perfect 
liberty to look at every thing at my leisure, and to perform 
my devotions. In particular he pointed out to me a little 
altar, which stood on the left, as especially holy, and then 
left me. 

Through the openings of a large trelliss-work of lattice, 
lamps appeared burning before an altar. I knelt down close 
to the gratings and peeped through. Farther in, however, 
another lattice of brass wire was drawn across : so that one 
looked, as it were, through gauze at the objects within. By 
the light of some dull lamps, I caught sight of a lovely 
female form. 

She lay seemingly in a state of ecstasy, — the eyes half- 
closed, the head leaning carelessly on the right hand, which 
was adorned with many rings. I could not sufficiently dis- 
cern her face, but it seemed to be peculiarly charming. Her 
robe was made of gilded metal, which imitated excellently a 
texture wrought with gold. The head and hands were of 
white marble. I cannot say that the whole was in the lofty 
style, still it was executed so naturally and so pleasingly 
that one almost fancied it must breathe and move. A little 
angel stands near her, and with a bunch of lilies in his hand 
appears to be fanning her. 

Meanwhile, the clergy had come into the cave, taken their 
places, and began to chant the Vespers. 

I took my seat right before the altar, and listened to them 
for a while : then I again approached the altar, knelt down, 
and attempted to obtain a still more distinct view of the 
beautiful image. I resigned n^self without reserve to the 
charming illusion of the statue and the locality. 

The chant of the priests now resounded through the cave ; 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 283 

the water was trickling into the reservoir near the altar ; 
while the over-hanging rocks of the vestibule — the proper 
nave of the church — shut in the scene. There was a deep 
stillness in this waste spot, whose inhabitants seemed to be 
all dead, — a singular neatness in a wild cave. The tinsel and 
tawdry pomp of the Roman-Catholic ceremonial, especially 
as it is vividly decked out in Sicily, had here reverted to its 
original simplicity. The illusion produced by the statue of 
the fair sleeper, which had a charm even for the most 
practised eye — in short, it was with the greatest difficulty 
that I tore myself from the spot, and it was late at night 
before I got back to Palermo. 

Palermo, 
Saturday, April 7, 1787. 

In the public gardens, which are close to the roadstead, I 
have passed some most delightful hours. It is the most 
wonderful place in the world : regularly laid out b} T art, it 
still looks a fairy spot ; planted but a short time ago, it yet 
transports you into ancient times. Green edgings surround 
beds of the choicest exotics ; citron-espaliers arch over low- 
arbored walks ; high walls of the oleander, decked with 
thousands of its red carnation-like blossoms, dazzle the eye ; 
trees, wholly strange and unknown to me, as yet without 
leaf, and probably, therefore, natives of a still warmer cli- 
mate, spread out their strange-looking branches. A raised 
seat at the end of the level space gives you a survey of 
these curiously mixed rarities, and leads the eye at last to 
great basins in which gold and silver fish swim about with 
their pretty movements, — now hiding themselves beneath 
moss-covered reeds, now darting in troops to catch the bit 
of bread which has tempted them from their hiding-place. 
All the plants exhibit tints of green such as we are not used to, 
— yellower and bluer than are found with us. What, how- 
ever, lent to every object the rarest charm was a strong halo 
which hung around every thing alike, and produced the fol- 
lowing singular effect : objects which were only distant a 
few steps from others, were distinguished from them by a 
decided tint of light blue, so that at last the distinctive 
colors of the most remote were almost merged in it, or at 
least assumed to the eye a decidedly strong blue tint. 

The very singular effect which such a halo imparts to dis- 
tinct objects, vessels, and headlands, is remarkable enough 
to an artistic eye : it assists it accurately to distinguish and, 



284 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

indeed, to measure distances. It makes, too, a walk on the 
heights extremely charming. One no longer sees Nature, 
nothing but pictures ; just as if a painter of exquisite taste 
had arranged them in a gallery. 

But these wonderful gardens have made a deep and lasting 
impression on my mind. The black waves on the northern 
horizon, as they broke on the irregular points of the bay. — 
and even the smell of the sea, — all seemed to recall to my 
imagination, as well as to ni} T memory, the happy island of 
the Phaeacians. I hastened to purchase a "Homer," and 
began to read this book with the highest delight, making an 
impromptu translation of it for the benefit of Kniep. who 
had well deserved by his diligent exertions this day some 
agreeable refreshment over a glass of wine. 

Palermo, April 8, 1787. 
(Easter Day.) 

The morning rejoicings in the blissful Resurrection of the 
Lord commenced with break of day. Crackers, wild-fires, 
rockets, serpents, etc., were let off by wholesale in front of 
the churches, as the worshippers crowded in at the open 
doors. The chiming of bells, the pealing of organs, the 
chanting of processions, and of the choirs of priests who 
came to meet them, were enough to stun the ears of all 
who had not been used to such noisy worship. 

The early mass was scarcely ended, when two well-dressed 
couriers of the viceroy yisited our hotel, with the double 
object of offering to all strangers his highness's congratu- 
lations on the festival, and to exact a douceur in return. 
As I was specially honored with an invitation to dinner, my 
gift was, of course, expected to be considerable. 

After spending the morning in visiting the different 
churches, I proceeded to the viceroy's palace, which is situ- 
ated at the upper end of the city. As I arrived rather 
early, I found the great hall still empty : there was only a 
little, lively man, who came up to me, and whom I soon 
discovered to be a Maltese. 

When he had learned that I was a German, he asked if I 
could give him any account of Erfurt, where he had spent 
a very pleasant time on a short visit. 

As he asked me about the family of the Dacherodes, and 
about the Coadjutor von Dalberg, I was able to give some 
account of them, at which he seemed much delighted, and 
inquired after other people of Thuringia. With considerable 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 285 

interest he then inquired about Weimar. "And how," he 
asked, " is the person, who, full of youth and vivacity when 
I was there, was the life of society? I have forgotten his 
name, but he is the author of ; Werther.' " 

After a little pause, as if for the sake of tasking my 
memory, I answered, " I am the person whom you are in- 
quiring about." With the most visible signs of astonish- 
ment he sprung back, exclaiming, "There must have been 
a great change then ! " " Oh, yes ! " I rejoined, ;t between 
Palermo and Weimar I have gone through many a change." 

At this moment the viceroy and suite entered the apart- 
ment. His carriage evinced that graceful freedom which 
became so distinguished a personage. He could not refrain 
from laughing at the Maltese, as he went on expressing his 
astonishment to see me here. At table I sat by the side of 
the viceroy, who inquired into the objects of my journey, 
and assured me that he would give orders that every thing in 
Palermo should be open to my inspection, and that every 
possible facility should be given me during my tour through 
Sicily. 

Palermo, 
Monday, April i), 1787. 

This whole day has been taken up with the stupidities of 
the Prince Pallagonia, whose follies are thoroughly different 
from what one would form an idea of either by reading or by 
hearing of them. For, with the slightest love of truth, he 
who wishes to furnish an account of the absurd, gets into a 
dilemma : he is anxious to give an idea of it, and so makes it 
something, whereas, in reality, it is a nothing which seeks to 
pass for something. And here I must premise another gen- 
eral reflection ; viz., that neither the most tasteless nor the 
most excellent production comes entirely and immediately 
from a single individual or a single age, but that with a little 
attention any one may trace its pedigree and descent. 

The fountain already described in Palermo belongs to the 
forefathers of the Pallagonian follies, only that the latter, In 
their own soil and domain, develop themselves with the great- 
est freedom and on the largest scale. 

When in these parts a country-seat is built, it is usually 
placed in the middle of a whole property : and therefore, in 
order to reach the princely mansion, you have to pass through 
cultivated fields, kitchen-gardens, and similar rural conven- 
iences ; for these Southerns show far more of economy than 



286 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

we Northmen, who often waste a good piece of rich land on a 
park, which, with its barren shrubs, can only charm the eye. 
But here it is the fashion to build two walls, between which 
you pass to the castle, without knowing in the least what is 
doing on your right and left. This passage begins generally 
with a grand portico, and sometimes with a vaulted hall, and 
ends with the mansion itself. But, in order that the eye 
may not be entirely without relief between these by-walls, 
they are generally arched over, and ornamented with scrolls, 
and also with pedestals, on which, here and there, a vase is 
placed. The flat surfaces are plastered, divided into com- 
partments, and painted. The court is formed by a circle of 
one-storied cabins, in which work-people of all sorts reside, 
while the quadrangular castle towers over all. 

This is the sort of building which is here traditionally 
adopted, and which probably was the old form, when the 
father of the present prince rebuilt the castle, not in the 
best, but still in tolerable taste. But the present possessor, 
without abandoning the general features of this st}de, gave 
free course to his humor and passion for the most ill-shapen 
and tasteless of erections. One would do him too much 
honor b} T giving him credit for even one spark of taste. 

We entered, therefore, the great hall, which stands at the 
beginning of the property, and found ourselves in an octag- 
onal room, of a breadth altogether disproportioned to its 
height. Four vast giants with modern spatterdashes, which 
had just been buttoned on, support the cornice, on which, 
directly meeting the eye as you enter, is a representation of 
the Holy Trinity. 

The passage to the castle is broader than usual, the wall 
being converted into one continuous high socle ; from which 
basement the strangest groups possible reach to the top, 
while in the spaces between them several vases are placed. 
The ugliness of these unshapely figures (the bungling work 
of the most ordinary mason) is increased by their having 
been cut out of a very crumbly muscheltufa ; although, per- 
haps, a better material would have made the badness of 
the form still more striking to the eye. I used the word 
"groups" a moment ago; but I have employed a wrong 
term, inappropriate in this place. For they are mere juxta- 
positions, determined hy no thought, but by mere arbitrary 
caprice. In each case three form the ornament of a square 
pedestal, their bases being so arranged as to fill up the space 
by their various postures. The principal groups have gener- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 28T 

all}' two figures, which occupy the chief face of the pedestal, 
and then two are yet wanting to fill up the back part of the 
pedestal. One of a moderate size generally represents a 
shepherd or shepherdess, a cavalier or a lady, a dancing ape 
or a hound. Still there is a vacant spot on the pedestal : 
this is generally held by a dwarf, — as, indeed, in dull jokes, 
this sort of gentry usually play a conspicuous part. 

That we may not omit any of the elements of Prince Pal- 
lagonia's folly, we give you the accompanying catalogue. 
Men : Beggars, male and female, Spanish men and women, 
Moors, Turks, hunchbacks, cripples of all sorts, strolling 
musicians, pulcinellos, soldiers in ancient uniforms, gods, 
goddesses, gentlemen in old French costumes, soldiers with 
cartouche boxes and gaiters, mythological personages (with 
most ridiculous companions, — Achilles and Charon, for in- 
stance, with Punch). Animals (merely parts of them): 
Heads of horses on human bodies, mis shapen apes, lots of 
dragons and serpents, all sorts of feet under figures of all 
kinds, double-headed monsters, and creatures with heads that 
do not belong to them. Vases : All sorts of monsters and 
scrolls, which below end in the hollows and bases of vases. 

Just let any one think of such figures furnished by whole- 
sale, produced without thought or sense, and arranged with- 
out choice or purpose, — only let him conceive to himself this 
socle, these pedestals and unshapely objects in an endless 
series, and he will be able to sympathize with the disagree- 
able feelings which must seize every one whose miserable 
fate condemns him to run the gauntlet of such absurdities. 

We now approach the castle, and are received into a semi- 
circular fore-court. The chief wall before us, through which 
is the entrance-door, is in the castle style. Here we find 
an Egyptian figure built into the wall, a fountain without 
water, a monument, vases stuck around in no sort of order, 
statues designedly laid on their noses. Next we came to the 
castle court, and found the usual round area, enclosed with 
little cottages, distorted into small semicircles, in order, for- 
sooth, that there might be no want of variety. 

The ground is, for the most part, overgrown with grass. 
Here, as in the neighborhood of a church in ruins, are marble 
urns with strange scrolls and foliations, collected by his 
father; dwarfs and other abortions of the later epoch, for 
which, as yet, fitting places have not been found ; one even 
comes upon an arbor, propped up with ancient vases, and 
stone scrolls of various shapes. 



288 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

The absurdities produced b} T such want of judgment and 
taste, however, are strikingly instanced by the fact, that the 
window sills in these cottages are, without exception, oblique, 
and lean to one side or the other, so as to offend and Aiolate 
all sense of the level and perpendicular, which are so indis- 
pensable in the human mind, and form the foundation of 
all architectural propriety. And then, again, the edges of all 
the roofs are embellished with hydras and little busts, with 
choirs of monkeys playing music, and similar conceits. 
Dragons alternate with deities ; an Atlas, who sustains not 
the mundane sphere, but an empty wine-barrel ! 

One hopes to escape from all this by entering the castle, 
which, having been built by the father, presents relatively a 
more rational appearance when viewed from the exterior. 
But in vain ; for at no great distance from the door, one 
stumbles upon the laurel-crowned head of a Roman emperor 
on the bod} 7 of a dwarf, who is sitting astride a dolphin. 

Now, in the castle itself, of which the exterior gives hope 
of at least a tolerable interior, the madness of the prince 
begins again to rave. Many of the seats have lost their legs, 
so that no one can sit upon them ; and if some appear to 
promise a resting-place, the chamberlain warns you against 
them, as having sharp prickles beneath their satin-covered 
cushions. In all the corners are candelabras of porcelain 
china, which, on a nearer view, } t ou discover to be cemented 
together out of different bowls, cups, saucers, etc., etc. Not 
a corner but some whim peeps out of it. Even the une- 
qualled prospect over the promontory into the sea is spoiled 
by colored glass, which, by its false lights, gives either a 
cold or a fiery tint to the neighboring scenes. I must also 
mention a cabinet, which is inlaid with old gold frames, cut 
in pieces. All the hundred-fold carvings, all the endless 
varieties of ancient and modern, more or less dust-stained 
and time-injured, gilding, closely huddled together, cover all 
the walls, and give you the idea of a miniature lumber-room. 

To describe the chapel alone would require a volume. 
Here one finds the solution of the whole folly, which could 
never have reached such a pitch in any but a bigoted mind. 
How many monstrous creations of a false and misled devo- 
tion are here to be found, I must leave you to guess for 
yourself. However, I cannot refrain from mentioning the 
most outrageous : a carved crucifix is fastened flat to the 
roof, painted after nature, lackered and gilded ; into the na- 
vel of the figure attached to the cross, a hook is screwed, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 289 

and from the latter hangs a chain which is fastened to 
the head of a man who, in a kneeling and praying posture, is 
suspended in the air, and, like all the other figures in the 
church, is painted and lackered. In all probability it is in- 
tended to serve as a type of the owner's unceasing devotion. 

Moreover, the house is not finished within. A hall built 
by the father, and intended to be decorated with rich and 
varied ornaments, but not tricked out in a false and offensive 
taste, is still incomplete ; so that, it would seem, even the 
boundless madness of the possessor is at a stand-still. 

Kniep's artistic feeling was almost driven to desperation 
in this mad-house ; and, for the first time in nry life, I found 
him quite impatient. He hurried me away, when I wished 
to take a note of, and to perpetuate the memory of, these 
monstrous absurdities, one by one. Good-naturedly enough, 
he at last took a sketch of one of these compositions, which 
did, at least, form a kind of group. It represents a woman 
with a horse's head, sitting on a stool, and playing at cards 
with a cavalier, dressed, as to his lower extremities, in the 
old fashion, while his gray head is ornamented with a large 
wig and a crown. The statue reminded me of the arms of 
the house of Pallagonia, — a satyr, holding up a mirror 
before a woman with a horse's head, which, even after all the 
strange follies of its present head, seems to me highly 
singular. 

Palermo, 

Tuesday, April 10, 1787. 

To-day we took a drive up the mountains to Monreale, 
along a glorious road which was laid down by an abbot of 
this cloister in the times of its opulence and wealth, — broad, 
of easy ascent ; trees here and there ; springs, and dripping 
wells, decked out with ornaments and scrolls somewhat Pal- 
Lagonian in style, but still, in spite of all that, refreshing to 
both man and beast. 

The monastery of St. Martin, which lies on the height, is 
a respectable building. One bachelor alone, as we see in the 
case of Prince Pallagonia, has seldom produced any thing 
rational ; but several together, on the other hand, have 
effected the greatest works, such as churches and monas- 
teries. But perhaps these spiritual fraternities produced so 
much, simply because, more than any father of a family, 
they could reckon with certainty on a numerous posterity. 

The monks readily permitted us to view their collection 



290 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

of antiques and natural objects. They contained many excel- 
lent specimens of both. Our attention was particularly fixed 
by a medallion, with the figure of a young goddess, which 
must excite the rapture of every beholder. The good monks 
would willingly have given us a copy, but there was nothing 
within reach which would do to make a mould. 

After the}* had exhibited to us all their treasures, — not 
without entering on an unfavorable comparison of their pres- 
ent with their former condition, — the}* led us into a small 
but pleasant room, from the balcony of which one enjoyed a 
lovely prospect. Here covers were laid for us alone, and we 
had a very excellent dinner to ourselves. When the dessert 
was served, the abbot and the senior monks entered, and 
took their seats. They remained nearly half an hour, during 
which time we had to answer many questions. We took a 
most friendly farewell of them. The younger brethren ac- 
companied us once more to the rooms where the collections 
were kept, and at last to our carriage. 

We drove home with feelings very different from those of 
} T esterday. To-day we had to regret a noble institution 
which was falling with time ; while, on the other hand, a 
most tasteless undertaking had a constant supply of wealth 
for its support. 

The road to St. Martin ascends a hill of the earlier lime- 
stone formation. The rock is quarried and broken, and 
burnt into lime, which is very white. For burning the stone, 
they make use of a long, coarse sort of grass, which is dried 
in bundles. Here, too, it is that the calorex is produced. 
Even on the most precipitous heights lies a red clay, of allu- 
vial origin, which serves the purposes of our dam-earth. 
The higher it lies the redder it is, and is but little blackened 
by vegetation. I saw, at a distance, a ravine almost like 
cinnabar. 

The monastery stands in the middle of the limestone hill, 
which is very rich in springs. 

Palermo, 
Wednesday, April 11, 1787. 

Having explored the two principal objects without the 
city, we betook ourselves to the palace, where a busy courier 
showed us the rooms and their contents. To our great 
horror, the room in which the antiques are generally placed 
was in the greatest disorder, in consequence of the walls 
being in the process of decoration. The statues were 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 291 

removed from their usual places, covered with cloth, and pro- 
tected by wooden frames ; so that in spite of the good will 
of our guide, and some trouble on the part of the work- 
people, we could only gain a very imperfect idea of them. 
My attention was chiefly occupied with two rams in bronze, 
which, notwithstanding the unfavorable circumstances, highly 
delighted our artistic taste. They are represented in a 
recumbent posture, with one foot stretched out before them, 
with the heads (in order to form a pair) turned on different 
sides. Powerful forms, belonging to the mythological family, 
and well worthy to carry Phrixus and Ilelle. The wool, not 
short and crisp, but long and flowing, with a slight wave, 
and shape most true to nature, and extremely elegant : they 
evidently belonged to the best period of Grecian art. They 
are said to have stood originally in the harbor of Syracuse. 

The courier now took us out of the city to the catacombs, 
which, laid out on a regular architectural plan, are any thing 
but quarries converted into burial-places. In a rock of tufa, 
of tolerable hardness, the side of which has been worked level 
and perpendicular, vaulted openings have been cut ; and in 
these, again, are hewn several tiers of sarcophagi, one above 
the other, all of the natural material, without masonry of 
any kind. The upper tiers are smaller, and in the spaces 
over the pillars are tombs for children. 

Palermo, 

Thursday, April 12. 

To day we have been shown Prince Torremuzza's cabinet 
of medals. I was, in a certain degree, loth to go there. 
I am too little versed in these matters, and a mere curiosity - 
mongering traveller is thoroughly detested by all true con- 
noisseurs and scholars. But as one must in every case make 
a beginning, I made myself easy on this head, and have 
derived bath gratification and profit from my visit. What a 
satisfaction, even cursorily, to glance at the fact that the old 
world was thickly sown with cities, the smallest of which has 
bequeathed to us in its precious coins, if not a complete 
series, yet at lest some epochs, of its history of art. Out of 
these cabinets, there smiles upon us an eternal spring of the 
blossoms and flowers of art, of a busy life ennobled with 
high tastes, and of much more besides. Out of these form- 
endowed pieces of metal, the glory of the Sicilian cities, now 
obscured, still shines forth fresh before us. 

Unfortunately, we in our youth had seen none but family 



292 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

coins, which say nothing, and the coins of the Caesars, which 
repeat to satiety the same profile, — portraits of rulers who are 
to be regarded as any thing but models of humanity. How 
sadly had our youth been confined to a shapeless Palestine, 
and to a shape-perplexing Rome ! Sicily and Nova Graecia 
give me hopes again of a fresh existence. 

That on these subjects I should enter into general reflec- 
tions, is a proof that as yet I do not understand much about 
them ; yet that, with all the rest, will in degrees be improved. 

Palermo, 
Thursday, April 12, 1787. 

This evening a wish of mine was gratified, and in a very 
singular fashion. I was standing on the pavement of the 
principal street, joking at the window with the shopkeeper 
I formerly mentioned, when suddenly a footman, tall and 
well-dressed, came up to me, and quickly poked a silver 
salver before me, on which were several copper coins and a 
few pieces of silver. As I could not make out what it all 
meant, I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders, the usual 
token by which in this country you get rid of those whose 
address or question yon either cannot, or do not wish to, 
understand. 

"What does all this mean?" I asked of my friend the 
shopkeeper, who, with a very significant mien, and somewhat 
stealthily, pointed to a lank and haggard gentleman, who, 
elegantly dressed, was walking with great dignity and indif- 
ference through the dung and dirt. Frizzled and powdered, 
with his hat under his arm, in a silken vest, with his sword by 
his side, and having a neat shoe ornamented with a jewelled 
buckle, the old man walked on calmly and sorrowfully. 
All eyes were directed towards him. 

u It is Prince Pallagonia," said the dealer," " who, from 
time to time, goes through the city collecting money to ran- 
som the slaves in Barbary. It is true, he does not get much 
by his collection, but the object is kept in memory ; and so 
it often happens that those who, in their life-time, were back- 
ward in giving, leave large legacies at their death. The 
prince has for many } T ears been at the head of this society, 
and has done a great deal of good." 

u Instead of wasting so much on the follies of his country- 
house," I cried, tc he might have spent the same large sum 
on this object. Then no prince in the world would have 
accomplished more." 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 293 

To this the shopkeeper rejoined: "But is not that the 
way with ns all? We are ready enough to pay for our own 
follies. Our virtues must look to the purses of others for 
their support." 

Palermo, April 13, 1787. 

Count Borck has very diligently worked before us in the 
mineralogy of Sicily, and whoever of the same mind visits 
the island after him, must willingly acknowledge his obliga- 
tions to him. 1 feel it a pleasure, no less than a duty, to 
celebrate the memory of my predecessor. And what am I 
more than a forerunner of others yet to be, both in my trav- 
els and life. 

However, the industry of the count seems to me to have 
been greater than his knowledge. He appears to have gone to 
work with a certain reserve, which is altogether opposed to that 
stern earnestness with which grand objects should be treated. 

Nevertheless, his essay in quarto, which is exclusively 
devoted to the mineralogy of Sicily, has been of great use 
to me ; and, prepared by it, I was able to profit by my visit 
to the quarries, which formerly, when it was the custom to 
case the churches and altars with marble and agate, were 
more busily worked, though even now they are not idle. I 
purchased from them some specimens of the hard and soft 
stones ; for it is thus that they usually designate the marble 
and agate, chiefly because a difference of price mainly 
depends on this difference of quality. But, besides these, 
they have still another for a material which is the produce of 
the fire of their kilns. In these, after each burning, they 
find a sort of glassy flux, which in color varies from the 
lightest to the darkest, and even blackest blue. These 
lumps are, like other stones, cut into thin lamina, and then 
pierced, according to the height of their color and their 
purity, and are successfully employed, in the place of lapis 
lazuli, in the decoration of churches, altars, and sepulchral 
monuments. 

A complete collection, such as I wished, is not to be had 
at present : it is to be sent after me to Naples. The agates 
are of the greatest beauty, especially such as are variegated 
with irregular pieces of yellow or red jasper, and with white, 
and as it were frozen quartz, which produce the most beauti- 
ful effect. 

A very accurate imitation of these agates, produced by 
lake coloring on the back of thin plates of glass, is the 



294 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

only rational thing that I observed the other day among the 
Pallagonian follies. Such imitations are far better for deco- 
rations than the real agate ; since the latter are only found in 
very small pieces, whereas the size of the former depends on 
nothing but the size of the artist's plate. This contrivance 
of art well deserves to be imitated. 

Italy without Sicily leaves no image on the soul : here is 
the key to all. 

Of the climate it is impossible to say enough. It is now 
rainy weather, but not uninterruptedly wet : yesterday it 
thundered and lightened, and to-day all is intensely green. 
The flax has in places already put forth joints : in others it 
is boiling. Looking down from the hills, one fancies he sees 
in the plain below little ponds, so beautifully blue-green are 
the flax-fields here and there. Living objects without num- 
ber surround you. And my companion is an excellent 
fellow, the true Hoffegut (Hopeful) , aud I honestly sustain 
the part of the True friend. He has already made some 
beautiful sketches, and will take still more before we go. 
What a prospect, — to return home some day, happ} T , and 
with all these treasures ! 

Of the meat and drink here, in the country, I have said 
nothing as } T et : however, it is by no means an indifferent 
matter. The garden-stuffs are excellent, especially the let- 
tuce, which is particularly tender, with a milky taste : it 
makes one understand at once why the ancients termed it 
lactuca. Oil and wine of all kinds are very good, and 
might be still better if more care were bestowed on their 
preparation. Fish of the very best and tenderest. We 
have had, too, very good beef, though generally people do 
not praise it. 

Now, after dinner, to the window! — to the streets! A 
malefactor has just been pardoned, an event which takes 
place every year in honor of the festival of Easter. The 
brethren of some order or other led him to the foot of a 
gallows which had been erected for sake of the ceremony ; 
then the criminal at the foot of the ladder offers up a prayer 
or two, and, having kissed the scaffold, is led away again. 
He was a good-looking fellow of the middle age, in a white 
coat, white hat, and all else white. He carried his hat in 
his hand : at different points they attached variegated rib- 
bons to him, so that at last he was quite in tune to go to any 
masquerade in the character of a shepherd. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 295 

Palermo, 
April 13 and 14, 1787. 

So, then, before my departure, I was to meet with a 
strange adventure, of which I must forthwith give you a cir- 
cumstantial account. 

The whole time of my residence here, I have heard 
scarcely any topic of conversation at the ordinary, but 
Cagliostro, his origin and adventures. The people of 
Palermo are all unanimous in asserting that a certain Joseph 
Balsamo was born in their city, and, having rendered himself 
infamous by many disgraceful acts, was banished. But 
whether this person is identical with Count Cagliostro, was a 
point on which opinions were divided. Some who knew 
Balsamo personally asserted they recognized his features in 
the engraving, which is well known in Germany, and which 
has also travelled as far as Palermo. 

In one of these conversations, one of the guests referred 
to the trouble which a Palermitan lawyer had taken in exam- 
ining this matter. He seems to have been commissioned 
by the French Ministry to trace the origin of an indi- 
vidual, who in the face of France, and, indeed, of the 
whole world, had had the temerity to utter the silliest of idle 
tales in the midst of a legal process which involved the 
most important interests and the reputation of the highest 
personages. 

This lawyer, it was asserted, had prepared the pedigree of 
Giuseppe Balsamo, together with an explanatory memoir 
and documentary proofs. It has been forwarded to France, 
where in all probability public use will be made of it. 

As I expressed a wish to form the acquaintance of this 
lawyer, of whom, besides, people spoke very highly, the per- 
son who had recounted these facts offered to mention me to 
him, and to introduce me. 

After a few -days we paid him a visit, and found him 
busily engaged with his clients. When he had dismissed 
them, and we had taken a luncheon, he produced a manu- 
script which contained a transcript of Cagliostro's pedigree, 
and the rough draught of the memoir which had been sent 
to France. 

He laid the genealogy before. me, and gave me the neces- 
sary explanations ; of which I shall here give you as much 
as is necessary to facilitate the understanding of the whole 
business. 

Giuseppe Balsaino's great-grandfather on his mother's 



296 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

side was Matteo Martello. The maiden name of his great- 
grandmother is unknown. The issue of this marriage were 
two daughters, — Maria, who married Giuseppe Bracconerie, 
and became the grandmother of Giuseppe Balsamo ; and \ ni- 
cenza, married to Giuseppe Cagliostro, who was born in a 
little village called La Noava, about eight miles from Mes- 
sina. (I must note here that there are at this moment living 
at Messina two bellfounders of this name.) This great- 
aunt was subsequently godmother of Giuseppe Balsamo, 
who was named after his great-uncle, and at last in foreign 
countries assumed also the surname of this relation. 

The Bracconerie had three children, — Felicita, Matteo, 
and Antonia. 

Felicita was married to Piedro Balsamo, who was the son 
of Antonia Balsamo, ribbon-dealer in Palermo, and probably 
of Jewish descent. Piedro Balsamo, the father of the noto- 
rious Giuseppe, became bankrupt, and died in his five and 
fortieth year. His widow, who is still living, had borne him, 
besides the above-named Giuseppe Giovanna, Giuseppe 
Maria, who married Giovanna Battista Capitnmmino, who 
begot three children of her body and died. 

The memoir, which was read to us by its obliging author, 
and was at my request lent to me for a few days, was 
founded on baptismal and marriage certificates and other 
instruments which he had collected with great diligence. It 
contains pretty nearly (as I conclude from a comparison 
with a summary which I then* made) all the circumstances 
which have lately been made better known to the world by 
the acts of the legal process at Rome; viz., that Giuseppe 
Balsamo was born at Palermo, in the beginning of June, 
1743, and that at his baptism he was received back from the 
priest's arms by Vincenza Cagliostro (whose maiden name 
was Martello) ; that in his youth he took the habit of an 
order of the Brothers of Mercy, which paid particular atten- 
tion to the sick ; that he had shown great talent and skill for 
medicine, but that for his disorderly practices he was 
expelled the order, and thereupon set up in Palermo as a 
dealer in magic, and treasure-finder. 

His great dexterity in imitating every kind of handwriting 
was not allowed by him to lie idle. He falsified, or rather 
forged, an ancient document, by which the possession of 
some lands was brought into litigation. He was soon an 
object of suspicion, and cast into prison, but made his es- 
cape, and was cited to appear under penalty of outlawry. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 297 

He passed through Calabria towards Rome, where he mar- 
ried the daughter of a beltmaker. From Rome he came 
back to Naples, under the name of the Marchese Pellegrini. 
He even ventured to pay a visit to Palermo, was recognized, 
and taken prisoner, and made his escape in a manner that 
well deserves being circumstantially detailed. 

One of the principal nobles of Sicily, who possessed very 
large property, and held several important posts at the 
Neapolitan court, had a son, who to a frame of unusual 
strength, and an uncontrollable temper, united all the wanton 
excesses which the rich and great, without education, can 
think themselves privileged to indulge in. 

Donna Lorenza had managed to attract him, and on him 
the pretended Marchese Pellegrini relied for impunity. The 
prince avowed openly his patronage of this couple of new- 
comers, and set no bounds to his rage when Giuseppe Bal- 
samo, at the instance of the party whom he had injured, was 
a second time cast into prison. He had recourse to various 
means to obtain his liberation ; and, when these were unsuc- 
cessful, he, in the very ante-room of the president's court, 
threatened the advocate of the opposite party with the most 
dreadful consequences if he did not consent to the release of 
Balsamo. As the opposing advocate refused his consent, 
he rushed upon him, struck him, knocked him down, and 
kicked him, and was only with difficulty restrained from 
further violence when the judge, hearing the noise, rushed in 
and commanded peace. 

The latter, a weak and cringing character, had not the 
courage to punish the wrong-doer. The opposite party, 
advocate and all, were men of little minds ; and so Balsamo 
was set at liberty, without, however, any record of his libera- 
tion being found among the proceedings, neither by whose 
orders, or in what manner it was effected. 

Shortly after this he left Palermo, and travelled in differ- 
ent countries ; of which travels, however, the author of the 
memoir had been only able to collect very imperfect informa- 
tion. 

The memoir ended with an acute argument to prove the 
identity of Balsamo and Cagliostro, — a position which was 
at this time more difficult to prove than at present, now that 
the whole history of this individual has been made public. 

Had I not been led to form a conjecture that a public use 
would have been made in Fiance of this essay, and that on 
my return I should find it already in print, f doubt not hut 1 



298 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

should have been permitted to take a transcript of it, and to 
give my friends and the public an early account of many in- 
teresting circumstances. 

However, we have received the fullest account (and even 
more particulars than this memoir contains) from a quarter 
which usually is the source of nothing but errors. Who 
would have believed that Rome would ever have done so 
much for the enlightening of the world, and for the utter ex- 
posure of an impostor, as she has done by publishing the 
summary of the proceedings in this case? For although this 
work ought and might be much more interesting, it is, never- 
theless, an excellent document in the hands of every rational 
mind, who cannot but feel deep regret to see the deceived, 
and those who were not more deceived than deceivers, going 
on for years admiring this man and his mummeries ; feeling 
themselves by fellowship with him raised above the common 
mass, and from the heights of this credulous vanitj' pitying, 
if not despising, the sound common sense of mankind in 
general. 

Who was not willingly silent all the while? And even now, 
at last, when the whole affair is ended and placed beyond 
dispute, it is only with difficulty that I can prevail upon my- 
self, in order to complete the official account, to communi- 
cate some particulars which have here become known to me. 

When I found in the genealogy so many persons (espe- 
cially his mother and sisters) mentioned as still living. I ex- 
pressed to the author of the memoir a wish to see them, and 
to form the acquaintance of the other relatives of so notorious 
an individual. He remarked that it would be difficult to bring 
it about ; since these persons, poor but respectable, and living 
very retired, were not accustomed to receive visitors, and 
that their natural suspicion would be roused b} T any attempt 
of the kind. However, he was ready to send to me his copy- 
ing-clerk, who had access to the family, and by whose means 
he had procured the information and documents out of which 
the pedigree had been compiled. 

The next day his amanuensis made his" appearance, and 
expressed several scruples upon the matter. t4 I have hith- 
erto," he said, " carefully avoided coming within sight of 
these persons. For in order to get into my hands the certifi- 
cates of baptism and marriage, so as to be able to take legally 
authenticated copies of them, I was obliged to have recourse 
to a little trick. I took occasion to speak of some little 
family property that was somehow or other unclaimed ; made 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 299 

it appear probable to them that the young Capitummino was 
entitled to it ; but I told them that first of all it was neces- 
sary to make out a pedigree, in order to see how far the 
youth could establish his claim ; that, however, his success 
must eventually depend upon the law proceedings, which I 
would willingly undertake on condition of receiving for my 
trouble a fair proportion of the amount recovered. The 
good people readily assented to every thing. I got pos- 
session of the papers I wanted, took copies of them, and 
finished the pedigree : since then, however, I have cautiously 
kept out of their sight. A few weeks ago old Capitummino met 
me, and it was only by pleading the tardiness with which such 
matters usually proceed that I managed to excuse myself." 

Thus spoke the copyist. As, however, I stuck to my pur- 
pose, he, after some consideration, consented to take me to 
their house, and suggested that it would be best for me to 
give myself out to be an Englishman bringing the family tid- 
ings of Cagliostro, who, immediately after his release from 
the Bastile, had proceeded to London. 

At the appointed hour, about two o'clock in the afternoon, 
we set out on our expedition. The house was situated in 
the corner of a narrow lane, not far from the great street, 
4 'II Casaro." We ascended a few wretched steps, and got 
at once into the kitchen. A woman of middle size, strong 
and broad, without being fat, was busy washing up the cook- 
ing utensils. She was neatly and cleanly clad, and, as we en- 
tered, turned up the corner of her apron, in order to conceal 
from us its dirty front. She seemed glad to see my guide, 
and exclaimed, " Do you bring us good news, Signor Gio- 
vanni? Have you obtained a decree? " 

He replied, " No ! I have not as yet been able to do any 
thing in our matter. However, here is a foreigner who 
brings you a greeting from your brother, and who can give 
you an account of his present state and abode." 

The greeting that I was to bring did not exactly stand in 
our bond. However, the introduction was now made. " You 
know my brother?" she asked me. " All Europe knows 
him," I replied; u and I am sure you will be glad to hear 
that he is at present safe and well ; for assuredly you must 
have been in great anxiety about him." — "Walk in," she 
said, "I will follow you immediately;" and so, with the 
copying-clerk, I entered the sitting-room. 

It was spacious and lofty, and would pass with us for a 
saloon. It seemed, however, to form the whole dwelling of 



300 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

the family. A single window lighted the large walls, which 
were once colored, and on which figures of the saints, taken 
in black, hung in gilt frames. Two large beds, without cur- 
tains, stood against one wall ; while a brown press, which had 
the shape of an escritoire, was placed against the opposite 
one. Old chairs, with rush bottoms, the backs of which 
seemed to have once been gilded, stood on each side of it ; 
while the bricks of the floors were in many places sunk deep 
below the level. In other respects, every thing was clean 
and tidy ; and we made our way towards the family, who 
were gathered around the only large window at the other end 
of the room. 

While my guide was explaining to the old widow Balsamo, 
who sat in the corner, the cause of our visit, and, "in conse- 
quence of the deafness of the good old woman, had frequently 
to repeat his words, I had time to observe the room and the 
rest of its occupants. A young girl about sixteen years of 
age, well grown, whose features, however, the small-pox had 
robbed of all expression, was standing at the window ; by 
her side a young man, whose unpleasant countenance, sadly 
disfigured by the small-pox, also struck me. In an arm- 
chair, opposite the window, sat, or rather reclined, a sick 
and sadly deformed person, who seemed to be afflicted with 
a sort of torpor. 

When my guide had made himself understood, they in- 
sisted on our being seated. The old woman put some ques- 
tions to me ; which I required to have interpreted before I 
could answer them, as I was not very familiar with the Sicil- 
ian dialect. 

I was pleased with the examination, which, during this 
conversation, I made of the old woman. She was of mid- 
dle size, but of a good figure ; over her regular features an 
expression of calmness was diffused, which people usually 
enjoy who are deprived of hearing ; the tone of her voice 
was soft and aoreeable. 

I answered her questions ; and my answers had, in their 
turn, to be interpreted to her. 

The slowness of such a dialogue gave me an opportunity 
of weighing my words. I told her that her son, having been 
acquitted in France, was at present in London, where he 
had been well received. The joy she expressed at this news 
was accompanied with exclamations of a heartfelt piety ; 
and now, as she spoke louder and more slowly, I could under- 
stand her better. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 301 

In the moan time her daughter had come in, and had 
seated herself by the side of my guide, who faithfully re- 
peated to her what I had been saying. She had tied on a 
clean apron, and arranged her hair under a net. The more 
I looked at and compared her with her mother, the more 
surprised I was at the difference of their persons. A lively, 
healthy sensibility spoke from every feature of the daughter : 
she was apparently about forty years old. With her cheer- 
ful blue eyes, she looked about her intelligently, without, 
however, my being able to trace the least symptom of sus- 
picion. As she sat, her figure seemed to promise greater 
height than it showed when she stood up. Her posture be- 
spoke determination : she sat with her body bent forwards, 
and her hands resting on her knees. Moreover, her full, 
rather than sharp profile, reminded me of the portraits of 
her brother, which I had seen in engravings. She asked me 
several questions about my travels ; about 1113' purpose in 
visiting Sicily ; and would persuade herself that I should 
most assuredly come again, and keep with them the Festival 
of St. Rosalie. 

The grandmother having in the mean time put some ques- 
tions to me, the daughter, while I was busy answering them, 
was speaking in an undertone to my guide ; so that my 
curiosity was stimulated to ask what they were talking 
about. Upon this he said, Donna Capitummino was just 
telling him that her brother owed her fourteen oncie. In 
order to facilitate his rapid departure from Palermo, she had 
redeemed some of his things which were in pawn ; but since 
then she had not heard a word from him, nor received any 
moiie} 7 , nor help of any kind, although, as she had heard, 
he possessed great wealth, and kept a princely establish- 
ment. Would I not engage on my return, at the first favor- 
able moment to remind him of this debt, and to get him to 
make them an allowance, — nay, would I not take a letter 
to him, or at least frank one to him? I offered to do so. 
She asked me where I lived? and where she could send me 
the letter. I avoided giving her my address, and engaged 
to call for the letter on the evening of the next day. 

She then recounted to me her pitiable situation. She was 
a widow, with three children : one girl was being educated 
in a nunnery, the other was here at home, and her son was 
gone to school. Besides these three children, she had her 
mother on her hands, for whose support she must provide ; 
and besides all this, out of Christian love she had taken into 



302 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

her house the unfortunate sick person, — and thus augmented 
her miseries. All her industry scarcely sufficed to furnish 
herself and children with the very barest necessaries. She 
well knew that God would reward all such good works ; still, 
she could not help sighing beneath the heavy burden she had 
so long borne. 

The young people joined in the conversation, and the 
dialogue became livelier. While I was speaking to the 
others, I heard the old woman ask her daughter if I belonged 
to their holy religion. I was able to observe that the daugh- 
ter skilfully parried the question by assuring her mother (as 
well as I could make out her words) that the stranger ap- 
peared well disposed towards them ; and that it was not 
proper to question any one all at once on this point. 

When they heard that I was soon to depart from Palermo, 
they became still more urgent, and entreated me to call 
again at all events : they especially praised 'the heavenly 
day of St. Rosalie's festival, the like of which was not to be 
seen or enjoyed in the world. 

My guide, who for a long while had been wishing to get 
away, at last by his signs put an end to our talk ; and I 
promised to come on the evening of the next day, and fetch 
the letter. My guide expressed his satisfaction that all had 
gone off so well, and we parted, well satisfied with each other. 

You may imagine what impression this poor, pious, and 
well-disposed family made upon me. My curiosity was sat- 
isfied ; but their natural and pleasing behavior had excited 
my sympathy, and reflection only confirmed my good will in 
their favor. 

But then some anxiety soon arose in my mind about to- 
morrow. It was only natural that my visit, which at first 
had so charmed them, would, after my departure, be talked 
and thought over by them. From the pedigree, I was aware 
that others of the family were still living. Nothing could 
be more natural than that they should call in their friends to 
consult them on all they had been so astonished to hear from 
me the day before. I had gained my object, and now it 
only remained for me to contrive to bring this adventure to 
a favorable issue. I therefore set off the next day, and 
arrived at their house just after their dinner. They were 
surprised to see me so early. The letter, they told me 
was not yet ready ; and some of their relatives wished to 
make my acquaintance, and they would be there towards 
evening. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 303 

I replied that I was to depart early in the morning ; that 
I had }'et some visits to make, and had also to pack up ; and 
that I had determined to come earlier than I had promised 
rather than not come at all. 

During this conversation the son entered, whom I had not 
seen the day before. In form and countenance he resem- 
bled his sister. He had brought with him the letter I was 
to take. As usual in these parts, it had been written by 
•one of the public notaries. The youth, who was of a quiet, 
sad, and modest disposition, inquired about his uncle, asked 
about his riches and expenditure, and added, " How could 
he forget his family so long ? It would be the greatest hap- 
piness to us," he continued, "if he would only come back 
and help us ; " but he further asked, " How came he to tell 
you that he had relations in Palermo? It is said that he 
disowns us everywhere, and gives himself out to be of high 
birth." These questions, to which my guide's want of fore- 
sight had, on our first visit, given rise, I contrived to satisfy, 
by making it appear possible, that, although his uncle might 
have many reasons for concealing his origin from the public, 
he would, nevertheless, make no secret of it to his friends 
and familiar acquaintances. 

His sister, who had stepped forward during this conversa- 
tion, and taken courage from the presence of her brother, 
and probably, also, from the absence of yesterday's friend, 
began now to speak. Her manner was very pretty and 
lively. She earnestly begged me, when I wrote to her uncle, 
to commend her to him ; and not less earnestly, also, to 
come back, when I had finished my tour through the king- 
dom of Sicily, and to attend with them the festivities of 
St. Rosalie. 

The mother joined her voice to that of her children. 
"Signor," she exclaimed, "although it does not in propriety 
become me, who have a grown-up daughter, to invite strange 
men to my house, — and one ought to guard not only against 
the danger itself, but even against evil tongues, — still you, 
I can assure you, will be heartily welcome whenever you 
return to our city." 

"Yes! yes!" cried the children, "we will guide the 
signor throughout the festival ; we will show him every 
thing ; we will place him on the scaffolding from which you 
have the best view of the festivities. How delighted will 
he be with the great car, and especially with the splendid 
illuminations ! " 



304 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

In the mean while, the grandmother had read the letter 
over and over again. When she was told that I wished to 
take my leave, she rose and delivered to me the folded paper. 
"Say to my son," she said, with a noble vivacity, not to 
say enthusiasm, " tell 1113' son how happy the news you have 
brought me of him has made us. Say to nvy son that I thus 
fold him to my heart" (here she stretched out her arms and 
again closed them over her bosom) ; "that every day in 
prayer I supplicate God and our blessed Lady for him ; that 
I give my blessing to him and to lfis wife, and that I have 
no wish but, before I die, to see him once more with these 
eyes, which have shed so many tears on his account." 

The peculiar elegance of the Italian favored the choice 
and the noble arrangement of her words, which, moreover, 
were accompanied with those very lively gestures, by which 
this people usually give an incredible charm to every thing 
the}' say. Not unmoved, I took my leave . They all held 
out their hands to me : the children even accompanied me 
to the door, and while I descended the steps, ran to the 
balcony of the window, which opened from the kitchen into 
the street, called after me, nodded their adieus, and repeat- 
edly cried out to me not to forget to come again and see 
them. They were still standing on the balcony, when I 
turned the corner. 

I need not say that the interest I took in this family ex- 
cited in me the liveliest desire to be useful to them, and to 
help them in their great need. Through me they were now a 
second time deceived ; and hopes of assistance, which they had 
no previous expectation of, had been again raised, through 
the curiosity of a son of the North, only to be disappointed. 

My first intention was to pay them, before my departure, 
those fourteen oncie which the fugitive had borrowed of them 
and not repaid, and, by expressing a hope that he would repay 
me, to conceal from them the fact of its being a gift from 
me. When, however, I got home, casting up my accounts 
and looking over my cash and bills, I found, that, in a country 
where, from the want of communication, distance is infin- 
itely magnified, I should perhaps place myself in a strait, if 
I attempted to make amends for the dishonesty of a rogue 
by an act of mere good nature. 

The subsequent issue of this affair may as well be here 
introduced. 

I set off from Palermo, and never came back to it ; but 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 305 

notwithstanding the great distance of my Sicilian and Italian 
travels, my soul never lost the impression which the inter- 
view with this family had left upon it. 

I returned to my native land ; and the letter of the old 
widow, turning up among the many other papers which had 
come with it from Naples by sea, gave me occasion to speak 
of this and other adventures. 

Below is a translation of this letter, in which I have pur- 
posely allowed the peculiarities of the original to appear. 

" My Dearest Son, 

"On the 10th April, 1787, I received tidings of you through Mr. 
Wilton, and I cannot express to you how consoling it was to me; for 
ever since you removed from France I have been unable to hear any 
tidings of you. 

"My dear son, I entreat you not to forget me, for I am very 
poor, and deserted by all my relations but my daughter, and your 
sister Maria Giovanna, in whose house I am living. She cannot afford 
to supply all my wants, but she does what she can. She is a widow, 
with three children : one daughter is in the nunnery of St. Catherine, 
the other two children are at home with her. 

"I repeat, my dear son, my entreaty. Send me just enough to 
provide for my necessities ; for 1 have not even the necessary articles 
of clothing to discharge the duties of a Catholic, for my mantle and 
outer garments are perfectly in rags. 

"If you send me any thing, or even write me merely a letter, do 
not send by post, but by sea; for Don Matteo, my brother (Bracconeri), 
is the postmaster. 

" My dear son, I entreat you to provide me with a tari a day, in 
order that your sister may, in some measure, be relieved of the burthen 
I am to her at present and that I may not perish from want. Remem- 
ber the divine command, and help a poor mother, who is reduced to 
the utmost extremity. I give you my blessing, and press to my heart 
both thee and Donna Lorenza, thy wife. 

"Your sister embraces you from her heart, and her children kiss 
your hands. 

" Your mother, who dearly loves you, and presses you to her heart. 

"Felice Balsamo. 
"Palermo, April 18, 1787." 

Some worthy and exalted persons, before whom I laid this 
document, together with the whole story, shared my emotions, 
and enabled me to discharge my debt to this unhappy family, 
and to remit them a sum which they received towards the 
end of the year 1787. Of the effect it had, the following 
letter is evidence. 

"Palermo, December 25, 1787. 

"Dear and faithful Brother, 

"Deabest Son, 

"The joy which we have had in hearing that you are in good 
health and circumstances, we cannot express by any writing. By 
sending them this little assistance, you have filled with the greatest 



306 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

joy and delight a mother and a sister who are abandoned by all, and 
have to provide for two daughters and a son. For, after that Mr. Jacob 
Joff, an English merchant, had taken great pains to find out the Donna 
Giuseppe Maria Capitummino (by birth Balsamo), in consequence of 
my being commonly known merely as Marana Capitummino, he found 
us at last in a little tenement, where we live on a corresponding scale. 
lie informed us that you had ordered a sum of money to be paid us, 
and that he had a receipt, which I, your sister, must sign, — which was 
accordingly done; for he immediately put the money in our hands, 
and the favorable rate of the exchange has brought us a little further 
gain. 

"Now, think with what delight we must have received this sum, 
at a time when Christmas Day was just at hand, and we had no hope 
of being helped to spend it with its usual festivity. 

"The Incarnate Saviour has moved your heart to send us this 
money, which has served not only to appease our hunger, but actually 
to clothe us, when we were in want of every thing. 

"It would give us the greatest gratification possible if you would 
gratify our wish to see you once more, — especially mine, your mother, 
who never cease to bewail my separation from an only son, whom I 
would much wish to see again before I die. 

" But if, owing to circumstances, this cannot be, still do not neglect 
to come to the aid of my misery, especially as you have discovered so 
excellent a channel of communication, and so honest and exact a 
merchant, who, when we knew nothing about it, and when lie had 
the money entirely in his own power, has honestly sought us out and 
faithfully paid over to us the sum you remitted. 

"With you that perhaps will not signify much. To us, however, 
every help is a treasure. Your sister has two grown up daughters, and 
her son also requires a little help. You know that she has nothing in 
the world; and what a good act you will perform by sending her 
enough to furnish them all with a suitable outfit. 

"May God preserve you in health! We invoke him in gratitude, 
and pray that he may still continue the prosperity you have hitherto 
enjoyed, and that he may move your heart to keep us in remem- 
brance. In his name I bless you and your wife, as a most affectionate 
mother, — and I, your sister, embrace you; and so does your nephew, 
Giuseppe (Bracconeri), who wrote this letter. We all pray for your 
prosperity, as do also my two sisters, Antonia and Theresa. 
" We embrace you, and are, 

" Your sister, who loves you, 
"Giuseppe-Maria, Capitummino, and Balsamo. 
"Your mother, who loves and blesses you, 
who blesses you every hour, 
" Felice Balsamo, and Bkacconeri." 

The signatures appended to the letter are in their own 
handwriting. 

I had caused the money to be paid to them without send- 
ing any letter, or intimation whence it came. This makes 
their mistake the more natural, and their future hopes the 
more probable. 

Now, that they have been informed of the arrest and im- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 307 

prisonment of their relative, I feel at liberty to explain mat- 
ters to them, and to do something for their consolation. I 
have still a small sum for them in my hands, which I shall 
remit to them, and profit by the opportunity to explain the 
true state of the matter. Should any of my friends, should 
any of my rich and noble countrymen, be disposed to enlarge, 
by their contributions, the sum I have already in my hands, 
1 would exhort them in that case to forward their kind gifts 
to me before Michaelmas Day, in order to share the gratitude, 
and to be rewarded with the happiness, of a deserving family, 
out of which has proceeded one of the most singular monsters 
that has appeared in this century. 

I shall not fail to make known the further course of this 
story, and to give an account of the state in which my next 
remittance finds the family ; and perhaps, also, I shall add 
some remarks which this matter induced me to make, which, 
however, I withhold at present, in order not to disturb my 
reader's first impressions. 

Palermo, 
Sunday, April 15, 1787. 

Towards evening I paid a visit to my friend the shopkeeper, 
to ask him how he thought the festival was likely to pass off ; 
for to-morrow there is to be a solemn procession through the 
city, and the viceroy is to accompany the host on foot. The 
least wind will envelop both man and the sacred symbols in 
a thick cloud of dust. 

With much humor he replied, " In Palermo, the people look 
for nothing more confidently than for a miracle. ' Often 
before now. on such occasions, a violent passing shower had 
fallen and cleansed the streets, partially at least, so as to 
make a clean road for the procession. On this occasion a 
similar hope was entertained, and not without cause, for the 
sky was overcast, and promised rain during the night. 

Palermo, 

Sunday, April 1.1, 1787. 

And so it has actually turned out! During the night the 
most violent shower has fallen. In the morning I set out 
very early in order to be an eve-witness of the marvel. The 
stream of rain-water pent up between the two raised pave- 
ments, had carried the lightest of the rubbish down the 
inclined street, either into the sea or into such of the sewers 
as were not stopped up, while tin; grosser and heavier dung 



308 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

was driven from spot to spot. In this a singular meander- 
ing line of cleanliness was marked out along the streets. On 
the morning, hundreds and hundreds of men were to be seen 
with brooms and shovels, busily enlarging this clear space, 
and in order to connect it where it was interrupted by the 
mire ; and throwing the still remaining impurities now to this 
side, now to that. By this means when the procession started, 
it found a clear serpentine walk prepared for it through the 
mud, and so both the long-robed priests and the neat-booted 
nobles, with the viceroy at their head, were able to proceed 
on their way unhindered and unsplashed.' 

I thought of the children of Israel passing through the 
waters on the dry path prepared for them by the hand of the 
angel ; and this remembrance served to ennoble what other- 
wise would have been a revolting sight, — to see these devout 
and noble peers parading their devotions along an alley 
flanked on each side by heaps of mud. 

On the pavement there was now, as always, clean walking ; 
but in the more retired parts of the city, whither we were this 
day carried in pursuance of our intention of visiting the 
quarters we had hitherto neglected, it was almost impossible 
to get along, although even here the sweeping and piling of 
the filth was by no means neglected. 

The festival gave occasion to our visiting the principal 
church of the city and observing its curiosities. Being once 
on the move, we took a round of all the other public edifices. 
We were much pleased with a Moorish building, which is in 
excellent preservation, — not very large, but the rooms beau- 
tiful, broad, and well proportioned, and in excellent keeping 
with the whole pile. It is not perhaps suited for a northern 
climate, but in a southern land a most agreeable residence. 
Architects may perhaps some day furnish us with a plan and 
elevation of it. 

We also saw, in most unsuitable situations, various remains 
of ancient marble statues, which, however, we had not 
patience to decipher. 

Palermo, April 10, 1787. 
As we are obliged to anticipate our speedy departure from 
this paradise, I hoped to-day to spend a thorough holiday by 
sitting in the public gardens, and, after studying the task I 
had set myself out of the Od} T ssey, taking a walk through 
the valley, and at the foot of the hill of St. Rosalie, meditat- 
ing still further on my sketch of Nausicaa, and there trying 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 309 

whether this subject is susceptible of a dramatic form. All 
this I have managed, if not with perfect success, yet cer- 
tainly much to 1113' satisfaction. I made out the plan, and 
could not abstain from sketching some portions of it which 
appeared to me most interesting, and tried to work them out. 

Palermo, 

Tuesday, April 17, 1787. 

It is downright misery to be pursued and hunted by many 
spirits ! Yesterday I set out early for the public gardens, 
with a firm and calm resolve to realize some of my poetical 
dreams ; but before I got within sight of them, another 
spectre which has been following me these last few da}'s got 
hold of me. Many plants which hitherto I had been used to 
see only in pots and tubs, or under glass frames, stand here, 
fresh and joyous, beneath the open sky ; and, as they here 
completely fulfil their destination, their natures and charac- 
ters became more plain and evident to me. In presence of 
so many new and renovated forms, my old fancy occurred to 
me again : Might not I discover the primordial plant among 
all these numerous specimens? Some such there must be! 
For, otherwise, how am I able at once to determine that this 
or that form is a plant, unless they are all formed after one 
original t} r pe? I busied myself, therefore, with examining 
wherein the many varying shapes differed from each other. 
And in every case I found them all to be more similar than 
dissimilar, and attempted to apply my botanical terminology. 
That went on well enough : still, I was not satisfied, but felt 
annoyed that it did not lead farther. My pet poetical pur- 
pose was obstructed : the gardens of Antinous all vanished, 
— a real garden of the world had taken their place. Why 
is it that we moderns have so little concentration of mind? 
"Why is it that we are thus tempted to make requisitions 
which we can neither exact nor fulfil? 

ALCAMO, 

Wednesday, April 18, 1 7S7 . 
At an early hour we rode out of Palermo. Kniep and the 
vetturiuo showed their skill in packing the carriage inside 
and out. We drove slowly along the excellent road, with 
which we had previously become acquainted during our visit 
to San Martino, and once more admired one of the magnifi- 
cent fountains on the way. At one of these; our driver 
stopped to supply himself with water, according to the tern- 



310 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

perate habits of this country. He had, at starting, hung to 
the traces a small wine-cask, such as our market-women use ; 
and it seemed to us to hold wine enough for several days. 
We were, therefore, not a little surprised "when he made for 
one of the many conduit-pipes, took the plug out of his cask, 
and let the water run into it. With true German amazement, 
we asked him what he was about? was not the cask full of 
wine? To all which he replied wi£h great coolness, he had 
left a third of it empty ; and as no one in this country drank 
unmixed wine, it Avas better to mix it at once in a large 
quantity, as then the liquids combined better; and, besides, 
you were not sure of finding water everywhere. During this 
conversation the cask was tilled, and we had to put up with 
this ancient and Oriental wedding custom. 

And now as we reached the heights beyond Mon Reale, 
we saw wonderfully beautiful districts, but tilled in tradi- 
tional, rather than in a true economical style. On the right, 
the eye reached the sea, where, between singular-shaped 
headlands, and beyond a shore here covered with, and there 
destitute of, trees, it caught a smooth and level horizon, per- 
fectly calm, and forming a glorious contrast with the wild 
and rugged limestone rocks. Kniep did not fail to make 
miniature outlines of several of them. 

We are at present in Alcamo, a quiet and clean little 
town, whose well-conducted inn is highly to be commended 
as an excellent establishment, especially as it is most con- 
veniently situated for those who come to see the temple of 
Segeste, which has a very lonely situation, out of the direct 
road. 

Alcamo, 
Thursday, April 10, 1787. 

Our agreeable dwelling in this quiet town among the 
mountains has so charmed us that we have determined to 
pass a whole day here. We may then, before any thing else, 
speak of our yesterda3 r 's adventures. In one of my earlier 
letters, I questioned the originality of Prince Pallagonia's 
bad taste. He has had forerunners, and can adduce many a 
precedent. On the road towards Mon Reale stand two mon- 
strosities, beside a fountain with some vases on a balustrade, 
so utterly repugnant to good taste that one would suppose 
they must have been placed there by the prince himself. 

After passing Mon Reale, we left behind us the beautiful 
road, and got into the rugged mountain country. Here some 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 311 

rocks appeared on the crown of the road, which, judging 
from their gravity and metallic incrustations, I took to be 
ironstone. Every level spot is cultivated, and is more or less 
prolific. The limestone in these parts had a reddish hue, 
and all the pulverized earth is of the same color. This red 
argillaceous and calcareous earth extends over a great space. 
The subsoil is hard, no sand underneath ; but it produces ex- 
cellent wheat. We noticed old, very strong, but stumpy 
olive-trees. 

Under the shelter of an airy room, which has been built 
as an addition to the wretched inn, we refreshed ourselves 
with a temperate luncheon. Dogs eagerly gobbled up the 
skins of our sausages, but a beggar-boy drove them off. He 
was feasting with a wonderful appetite on the parings of the 
apples we were eating, when he in his turn was driven away 
by an old beggar. Want of work is here felt everywhere. 
In a ragged toga, the old beggar was glad to get a job as 
house-servant or waiter. Thus I had formerly observed that 
whenever a landlord was asked for any thing which he had 
not at the moment in the house, he would send a beggar to 
the shop for it. 

However, we are pretty well provided against all such 
sorry attendance : for our vetturino is an excellent fellow ; 
he is ready as ostler, cicerone, guard, courier, cook, and 
every thing. 

On the higher hills you find eveiy where the olive, the 
caruba, and the ash. Their system of farming is also spread 
over three years, — beaus, corn, fallow, — in which mode of 
culture the people say the dung does more marvels than all 
the saints. The grape-stock is kept down very low. 

Alcamo is gloriously situated on a height, at a tolerable 
distance from a bay of the sea. The magnificence of the 
country quite enchanted us. Lofty rocks, with deep valleys 
at their feet, but withal wide open spaces, and great variety. 
Beyond Mon Reale you look upon a beautiful double valley, 
in the centre of which a hilly ridge again raises itself. The 
fruitful fields lie green and quiet .- but on the broad roadway 
the wild bushes and shrubs are brilliant with flowers, — the 
broom, one mass of yellow, covered with its papilionaceous 
blossoms, and not a single green leaf to be seen ; the white- 
thorn, cluster on cluster ; the aloes are rising high, and prom- 
ising to flower; a rich tapestry of an amaranthine-red clover, 
of orchids, and the little Alpine roses; hyacinths, with un- 
opened bells ; asphodels, and other wild flowers. 



Q 



12 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 



The streams which descend from Mount Segeste leave de- 
posits, not only of limestone, but also of pebbles of hornstone. 
They are very compact, dark blue, yellow, red, and brown, 
of various shades. I also found complete loads of horn, or 
firestone, in the limestone rocks, edged with lime. Of such 
gravel one finds whole hills just before one gets to Alcamo. 

• 

Segeste, April 20, 1787. 

The temple of Segeste was never finished. The ground 
around it was never even levelled, the space only being 
smoothed on which the peristyle was to stand. For, in 
several places, the steps are from nine to ten feet in the 
ground ; and there is no hill near, from which the stone or 
mould could have fallen. Besides, the stones lie in their 
natural position, and no ruins are found near them. 

The columns are all standing: two which had fallen, have 
very recently been raised again. How far the columns rested 
on a socle is hard to say ; and, without an engraving, it is dif- 
ficult to give an idea of their present state. At some points 
it would seem as if the pillars rested on the fourth step. In 
that case, to enter the temple you would have to go clown a 
step. In other places, however, the uppermost step is cut 
through, and then it looks as if the columns had rested on 
bases; and then again these spaces have been filled up, and 
so we have once more the first case. An architect is neces- 
sary to determine this point. 

The sides have twelve columns, not reckoning the corner 
ones ; the back and front six, including them. The rollers 
on which the stones were moved along, still lie around you on 
the steps. They have been left, in order to indicate that the 
temple was unfinished. But the strongest evidence of this 
fact is the floor. In some spots (along the sides) the pave- 
ment is laid down. In the middle, however, the red lime- 
stone rock still projects higher than the level of the floor as 
partially laid : the flooring, therefore, cannot ever have been 
finished. Nor is there a trace of an inner temple. Still 
less can the temple have ever been overlaid with stucco ; but 
that it was intended to do so, we may infer from the fact 
that the abaci of the capitals have projecting points, probably 
for the purpose of holding the plaster. The whole is built 
of a limestone, very similar to the travertine ; only it is now 
much fretted. The restoration which was carried on in 1 7<S 1 
has done much good to the building. The cutting of f-i?2 
y.[ :::e with which the parts have been reconnected, is simple, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 313 

but beautiful. The large blocks standing by themselves, 
which are mentioned by Riedesel, I could not find : probably 
they were used for the restoration of the columns. 

The site of the temple is singular. At the highest end of 
a broad and long valley, it stands on an isolated hill : sur- 
rounded, however, on all sides by cliffs, it commands a very 
distant and extensive view of the land, but it takes in only 
just a corner of the sea. The district reposes in a sort of 
melancholy fertility, — everywhere well cultivated, but scarce 
a dwelling to be seen. Flowering thistles were swarming 
with countless butterflies ; wild fennel stood here from eight 
to nine feet high, dry and withered, of the last year's growth, 
but so rich, and in such seeming order, that one might almost 
take it to be an old nursery-ground ; a shrill wind whistled 
through the columns as if through a wood ; and screaming 
birds of prey hovered around the pediments. 

The wearisomeness of winding through the insignificant 
ruins of a theatre took away from us all the pleasures we 
might otherwise have had in visiting the remains of the an- 
cient city. At the foot of the temple, we found large pieces 
of the hornstone. Indeed, the road to Alcamo is composed 
of vast quantities of pebbles of the same formation. From 
the road a portion of a gravelly earth passes into the soil, by 
which means it is rendered looser. In some fennel of this 
year's growth, I observed the difference of the lower and 
upper leaves : it is still the same organization that develops 
multiplicity out of unity. They are most industrious weed- 
ers in these parts. Just as beaters go through a wood for 
game, so here they go through the fields weeding. I have 
actually seen some insects here. In Palermo, however, I 
s;i\v nothing but worms, lizards, leeches, and snakes, though 
not more finely colored than with us : indeed, they are mostly 
all gray. 

Castel Vetrano, 
Saturday, April 21, 1787. 

From Alcamo to Castel Vetrano you come on the lime- 
stone, after crossing some hills of gravel. Between precipi- 
tous and barren limestone mountains, lie wide, undulating 
valleys, everywhere tilled, with scarcely a tree to be seen. 
The gravelly hills are full of large bowlders, giving signs of 
ancient inundations of the sea. The soil is better mixed, and 
lighter, than any we have hitherto seen, in consequence of its 
containing some sand. Leaving Salemi about fifteen miles 



314 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

to our right, we came upon hills of gypsum, lying on the 
limestone. The soil appears, as we proceed, to be better 
and more richly compounded. In the distance you catch a 
peep of the Western sea. In the foreground the country is 
everywhere hilly. We found the fig-trees just budding ; but 
what most excited our delight and wonder were endless 
masses of flowers, which had encroached on the broad road, 
and flourish in large, variegated patches. Closely bordering 
on each other, the several sorts, nevertheless, keep them- 
selves apart, and recur at regular intervals, — the most beau- 
tiful convolvuluses, hibiscuses, and mallows, various kinds 
of trefoil, here and there the garlic, and the galega-ges- 
trauche. On horseback you may ride through this varied 
tapestry by following the numberless and ever-crossing nar- 
row paths which run through it. Here and there you see, 
feeding, fine red-brown cattle, very clean-limbed, and with 
short horns of an extremely elegant form. 

The mountains to the north-east stand all in a line. A 
single peak, Cuniglione, rises boldly from the midst of them. 
The gravelly hills have but few streams : very little rain 
seems to fall here ; we did not find a single gully giving evi- 
dence of having ever overflowed. 

In the night I met with a singular incident. Quite worn 
out, we had thrown ourselves on our beds in any thing but a 
very elegant room. In the middle of the night I saw above 
me a most agreeable phenomenon, — a star, brighter, I think, 
than I ever saw one before. Just, however, as I began to 
take courage at a sight which was of good omen, my patron 
star suddenly disappeared, and left me in darkness again. 
At daybreak I at last discovered the cause of the marvel : 
there was a hole in the roof, and at the moment of my vision 
one of the brightest stars must have been crossing my meri- 
dian. This purely natural phenomenon was, however, inter- 
preted by us travellers as highly favorable. 

Sciacca, April 22, 1787. 
The road hither, which runs over nothing but gravelly hills, 
has been mineralogically uninteresting. The traveller here 
reaches the shore, from which, at different points, bold lime- 
stone rocks rise suddenly. All the flat land is extremely fer- 
tile ; barley and oats in the finest condition. The salsola-kali 
is here cultivated. The aloes, since yesterday and the day 
before, have shot forth their tall spikes. The same nu- 
merous varieties of the trefoil still attended us. At last we 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 315 

came on a little wood, thick with brushwood, the tall trees 
standing very wide apart ; and, lastly, the cork-tree. 

EVENINCx. 

Giroenti, April 23, 1787. 

From Sciacca to this place is a hard day's ride. We ex- 
amined the baths at the last-named place. A hot stream 
burst from the rock with a strong smell of sulphur : the water 
had a strong saline flavor, but it was not at all thick. May 
not this sulphureous exhalation be formed at the moment of 
its breaking from the rock? A little higher is a spring, quite 
cool and without smell. Right above is the monastery, where 
are the vapor baths : a thick mist rises above it into the pure 
air. 

The shingles on the shore are nothing but limestone : the 
quartz and hornstone have wholly disappeared. I have ex- 
amined all the little streams : the Calta Bellota, and the 
Maccasoli, carry down with them nothing but limestone ; the 
Platani, a yellow marble and flint, the invariable companion 
of this nobler calcareous formation. A few pieces of lava 
excited my attention, but I saw nothing in this country that 
indicated the presence of volcanic action. I supposed, there- 
fore, they must be fragments of millstones, or of pieces 
brought from a distance for some such use. Near Monte 
Allegro, the stone is all gypsum and selenite, — whole rocks 
of these occurring before and between the limestone. The 
wonderful strata of Uellota ! 

GlRGENTF, 

Tuesday, April 24, 1787. 
Such a glorious spring view as we enjoyed at sunset to- 
day will most assuredly never meet our eyes again in one 
lifetime. Modern Girgenti stands on the lofty site of the 
ancient fortifications, an extent sufficient for the present 
population. From our window, we looked over the broad but 
gentle declivity on which stood the ancient town, which is 
now entirely covered with gardens and vineyards, beneath 
whose verdure it would be long before one thought of look- 
ing for the quarters of an ancient city. However, towards 
the southern end of this green and nourishing spot the 
Temple of Concord rears itself, while on the east are a few 
remains of the Temple of Juno. Other ruins of souk; ancient 
buildings, which, lying in a straight line with those already 
spoken of, are scarcely noticed by the eye from above, while 



316 LETTERS FROM ITALY. , 

Jk 

it hurries over them southwards to the shoreyor inges over 
the level country, which reaches at least seven miles from 
the sea-mark. To-day Ave were obliged to deny ourselves the 
pleasure of a stroll among the trees and wild rockets, and 
over this expanse, so green, so flourishing, and so full of 
promise for the husbandman, because our guide (a good-na- 
tured little parish priest) begged of us above all things to 
devote this da} T to the town. 

He first showed us the well-built streets ; then he took us 
to the higher points, from which the view, gaining both in 
extent and breadth, was still more glorious ; and lastly, for 
an artistic treat, conducted us to the principal church. In it 
there is an ancient sarcophagus in good preservation ; the 
fact of its being used for the altar has rescued it from de- 
struction : Hippolytus, attended by his hunting companions 
and horses, has just been stopped try Phaedra's nurse, who 
wishes to deliver a letter to him. As in this piece the princi- 
pal object was to exhibit beautiful youthful forms, the old 
woman, as a mere subordinate personage, is represented very 
short and dwarfish, in order not to disturb the intended 
effect. Of all the alto-relievos I have ever seen, I do not. 
I think, remember one more glorious, and at the same time 
so well preserved, as this. Until I meet with a better, it 
must pass with me as a specimen of the most graceful 
period of Grecian art. 

We were carried back to still earlier periods of art by the 
examination of a costly vase, of considerable size, and in 
excellent condition. Moreover, many relics of ancient archi- 
tecture appeared worked up here and there in the wnlls of 
the modern church. 

As there is no inn or hotel in this place, a kind and wor- 
thy family made room for us, and gave up for our accom- 
modation an alcove belonging to a large room. A green 
curtain separated us and our baggage from the members of 
the family, who, in the more spacious apartment, were em- 
ployed in preparing macaroni of the whitest and smallest 
kind. I sat down by the side of the pretty children, and 
had the whole process explained to me, and was informed 
that it is prepared from the finest and hardest wheat, called 
Orano forte. That sort, the}^ also told me, fetches the highest 
price, which, after being formed into long pipes, is twisted 
into coils, and, by the tip of the fair artiste's fingers, made 
to assume a serpentine shape. The preparation is chiefly 
by the hand : machines and moulds are very little used. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 317 

They also prepared for us a clisli of the most excellent 
macaroni, regretting, however, that at that moment they 
had not even a single dish of the very best kind, which 
could not be made out of Girgenti, nor indeed, out of their 
house. What they did dress for me appeared to me to be 
unequalled in whiteness and tenderness. 

By leading us once more to the heights and to the most 
glorious points of view, our guide contrived to appease the 
restlessness which during the evening kept us constantly 
out of doors. As we took a survey of the whole neighbor- 
hood, he pointed out all the remarkable objects which on 
the morrow we had proposed to examine more nearly. 

Girgenti, 
Wednesday, April 25, 1787. 

With sunrise we took our way towards the plain, while 
at every step the surrounding scenery assumed a still more 
picturesque appearance. With the consciousness that it was 
for our advantage, the little man led us, without stopping, 
right across the rich vegetation, over a thousand little spots, 
each of which might have furnished the locale for an idyllic 
scene. This variety of scene is greatly due to the uneven- 
ness of the country, undulating as it passes over hidden 
ruins, which probably were very quickly covered with fertile 
soil, as the ancient buildings consisted of a light muschel- 
tufa. At last we arrived at the eastern end of the city, 
where are the ruins of the Temple of Juno, of which every 
year must have accelerated the decay, as the air and weather 
are constantly fretting the soft stone of which it is built. 
To-day we only devoted a cursory examination to it, but 
Kniep has already chosen the points from which to sketch 
it to-morrow. The temple stands on a rock which is now 
much worn by the weather. From this point the city walls 
stretched in a straight line, eastwards, to a bed of limestone, 
that rises perpendicular from the level strand, which the sea 
has abandoned, after having shaped these rocks and long 
washed the foot of them. Hewn partly out of the native 
rock, and partly built of it, were the walls of ancient Agri- 
gentum, from behind which towered a line of temples. No 
wonder, then, if from the sea the lower, middle, and upper 
towns presented together a most striking aspect. 

The Temple of Concord lias withstood so many centuries. 
Its light style of architecture cloeely approximates it to our 
present standard of the beautiful and tasteful ; so that as 



818 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

compared with that of Psestum, it is, as it were, the shape 
of a god to that of a gigantic figure. I will not 2,ive utter- 
anee to my regrets that the recent praiseworthy design of 
restoring this monument should have been so tastelessly 
carried out, that the gaps and defects are actually rilled up 
with a dazzling white gypsum. Consequently, this monu- 
ment of ancient art stands before the eye, in a certain sense, 
dilapidated and disfigured. How easy it would have been 
to give the gypsum the same tint as the weather-eaten stone 
of the rest of the building ! In truth, when one looks at 
the muschelkalk of which the walls and columns are com- 
posed, and sees how easily it crumbles away, his only sur- 
prise is that they have lasted so long. But the builders, 
reckoning on a posterity similar to themselves, had taken 
precautions against it. One observes on the pillars the re- 
mains of a line plaster, which would at once please the 
eye and insure durability. 

Our next halt was at the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter. 
Like the bones of a gigantic skeleton, they are scattered 
over a large space, having several small cottages inter- 
spersed among them, and being intersected b} T hedgerows, 
while amidst them are growing plants of different sizes. 

From this pile of ruins all the carved stone has disap- 
peared, except an enormous triglyph, and a part of a round 
pilaster of corresponding proportions. I attempted to span 
it with outstretched arms, but could not reach round it. Of 
the fluting of the column, however, some idea may be formed 
from the fact, that, standing in it as in a niche, I just filled 
it up and touched it on both sides with my shoulders. Two 
and twenty men arranged in a circle would give nearly the 
circumference of such a column. AVe went away with the 
disagreeable feeling that there was nothing here to tempt 
the draughtsman. 

On the other hand, the Temple of Hercules still showed 
some- traces of its former symmetry. The pillars of the 
peristyles, which ran along the temple on its upper and lower 
side, lie parallel, as if the}' had all fallen together, and at 
once, from north to south, — the one row lying up the hill, 
the other down it. The hill may possibly have been formed 
by the ruined cells or shrines. The columns, probably held 
together by the architrave, fell all at once, being suddenly 
thrown down, perhaps by a violent wind, and lie in regular 
order, only broken into the pieces of which they were origin- 
ally composed. Kniep was already, in imagination, pre- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 319 

paring his pencil for an accurate sketch of this singular 
phenomenon. 

The Temple of TEseulapius, lying beneath the shade of a 
most beautiful carob-tree, and closely built upon by some 
mean farm-buildings, presented to our minds a most agree- 
able aspect. 

Next we went down to Theron's Tomb, and were delighted 
with the actual sight of this monument, of which we had 
seen so many models, especially as it served for the fore- 
ground of a most rare prospect ; for, from west to east, we 
looked on the line of rocks on which lay the fragments of 
the walls, while through the gaps of the latter, and over 
them, the remains of the temples were visible. 

This view has, under Ilackert's skilful hand, furnished a 
most delightful picture. Here, too, Kniep will not omit to 
make a sketch. 

Girgenti, April 26, 1787. 
"When I awoke, Kniep was all ready to start on his artistic 
journey, with a boy to show him the way, and to carry his 
portfolio. I enjo}*ed this most glorious morning at the win- 
dow, with my secret and silent, but not dumb, friend by my 
side. A devout reverence has hitherto kept me from men- 
tioning the name of the mentor whom, from time to time, 
I have looked up and listened to. It is the excellent Von 
Riedesel, whose little A^olume I carry about with me in my 
bosom, like a breviary or talisman. At all times I have 
had great pleasure in looking up to those whom I know to 
be possessed of what I am most wanting in myself. And 
this is exactly the case here. A steady purpose, a fixed 
object, direct and appropriate means, due preparation and 
store of knowledge, an intimate connection with a masterly 
teacher, — he studied under Winckelmann, — of all these 
advantages I am devoid, as well as of all that follows from 
them. And yet I cannot feel angry with myself that I am 
obliged to gain by indirect arts and means, and to seize at once, 
what my previous existence had refused to grant me gradu- 
ally in the ordinary way. Oil that this worthy person could, 
at this moment, in the midst of his bustling world, be sensi- 
ble of the gratitude with which one, travelling in his foot- 
steps, celebrates his merits, in that beautiful but solitary 
spot which had so many charms for him as to induce the 
wish that he might end his days there ! 

Oblitusque suorum obliviscendus ct illis. 



320 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

With nry guide, the little parson, I now retraced our yes- 
terday's walk, observing the objects from several points, and 
every now and then taking a peep at my industrious friend. 

My guide called my attention to a beautiful institution 
of the once flourishing city. In the rocks and masses of 
masonry which served as bulwarks to ancient Agrigentum, 
are found graves, probably intended for the resting-place of 
the brave and good. Where could they more fitly have been 
buried, for the sake of their own glory, or for perpetuating a 
vivid emulation of their great and good deeds ! 

In the space between the walls and the sea there are still 
standing the remains of an ancient temple, which are pre- 
served as a Christian chapel. Here, also, are found round 
pilasters, worked up with, and beautifully united to, the 
square blocks of the wall, so as to produce an agreeable 
effect to the eye. One fancies that one here discerns the 
very spot where the Doric style reached its perfection. 

Many an insignificant monument of antiquity was curso- 
rily glanced at ; but more attention was paid to the modern 
way of keeping the corn under the earth in great vaulted 
chambers. Of the civil and ecclesiastical condition of the 
city, my guide gave me much information ; but I heard of 
nothing that showed any signs of improvement. The con- 
versation suited well with the ruins, which the elements are 
still preying upon. 

The strata of the muschelkalk all incline towards the sea, 
— banks of rock strangely eaten away from beneath and 
behind, while the upper and front portions still remain, look- 
ing like pendent fringes. 

Great hatred is here felt against the French, because they 
have made peace with the people of Barbary. They are even 
charged with betraying the Christians to the infidels. 

From the sea there was an ancient gateway, which was 
cut through the solid rock. The foundation of the walls, 
which are still standing, rests as it were on steps in the 
rocks. 

Our cicerone is Don Michaele Vella, antiquary, residing at 
the house of Signore Cerio, near St. Maria's. 

In the planting of marsh-beans they proceed in the follow- 
ing way : Holes are made in the earth at a convenient dis- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 321 

tance from each other, and a handful of dung is thrown in. 
They then wait for rain, after which they put in the seed. 
The people here burn the bean-haulms, and wash their linen 
with the ashes. They never make use of soap. The outer 
shells of almonds are likewise burnt, and used instead of 
soda. They first of all wash the clothes with pure water, 
and then with the lye of these ashes. 

The succession of their crops is, beans, wheat, and tume- 
nia. By beans I mean the marsh-bean. Their wheat is 
wonderfully fine. Tumenia, of which the name is derived 
from bimenia, or trimenia, is a glorious gift of Ceres. It is 
a species of spring wheat, which is matured within three 
months. It is sown at different times, from the first of Jan- 
uary to June, so that for a certain period there is always a 
crop ripe. It requires neither much rain nor great warmth. 
At first it has a very delicate leaf, but in its growth it soon 
overtakes the wheat, and at last is very strong. Wheat is 
sown in October and November, and ripens in June. The 
barley sown in November is ripe by the first of June. Near 
the coast it ripens sooner, but on the mountains more slowly. 

The flax is already ripe. The acanthus has unrolled its 
splendid leaves. The Salsala fruticosa is growing luxuri- 
antly. 

On the uncultivated hills grows a rich sanfoin. It is 
farmed out, and then carried into the town in small bundles. 
In the same way, the oats which are weeded out of the wheat 
are done up for sale. 

For the sake of irrigation, they make very pretty divisions 
with edgings, in the plots where they plant their cabbages. 

The figs have put forth all their leaves, and the fruit is 
set. They are generally ripe by midsummer, when the tree 
sets its fruit again. The almond-trees are well loaded : a 
sheltered carob-tree has produced numberless pods. The 
grapes for the table are trained on arbors supported by high 
props. Melons set in March, and ripen by June. Among 
the ruins of Jupiter's temple they thrive vigorously without a 
trace of moisture. 

Our vetturino eats with great zest raw artichokes and the 
turnip-cabbage. However, it is necessary to add, that they 
are more tender and more delicate than with us. When you 
walk through the fields the farmers allow you to take as 
many of the young beans, or other crops, as you like. 



322 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

As my attention was caught by some hard, black stones, 
which looked like lava, my antiquary observed that they 
were from JEtna ; and that at the harbor, or rather landing- 
place, many similar ones were to be found. 

Of birds there are not many kinds native here : quails are 
the most common. The birds of passage are, nightingales, 
larks, and swallows. The rinnine — small black birds, 
which come from the Levant — hatch their young in Sicily, 
and then go farther or retire. The ridene come in Decem- 
ber or January, and after alighting, and resting a while on 
Acragas, take their flight towards the mountains. 

Of the vase in the cathedral one word more. The figures 
upon it are, a hero in full armor, seemingly a stranger, be- 
fore an old man whom a crown and sceptre point out to be a 
king. Behind the latter stands a female figure, with her 
head slightly inclined, and her hand under her chin, — a pos- 
ture indicating thoughtful attention. Eight opposite to her, 
and behind the hero, is an old man who also wears a crown, 
and is speaking to a man armed with a spear, probably one 
of the body-guard of the former royal personage. This old 
man would appear to have introduced the hero, and to be 
saying to the guard, " Just let him speak to the king : he is 
a brave man." 

Red seems to be the ground of the vase, the black to be 
laid on. It is only in the female's robe that red seems to be 
laid on the black. 

GlRGENTI, 

Friday, April 27, 1787. 
If Kniep is to finish all he proposes, he must sketch away 
incessantly. In the mean time I walk about with my little 
antiquary. We took a walk towards the sea, from which 
Agrigentum must, as the ancients asserted, have looked ex- 
tremely well. Our view was turned to the billowy expanse : 
and my guide called my attention to a broad streak of clouds, 
towards the south, which, like a ridge of hills, seemed to rest 
on the line of the horizon. "This," he said, "indicated 
the coast of Africa." About the same time another phe- 
nomenon struck me as singular. It was a rainbow, in a light 
cloud, which, resting with one limb on Sicily, threw its arch 
high against the clear sky, and appeared to rest with the 
other on the sea. Beautifully tinted by the setting sun, and 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 323 

showing but little movement, it was to the eye an object as 
rare as it was agreeable. This bow, I was assured, was ex- 
actly in the direction of Malta ; and perhaps its other limb 
rested on that island. The phenomenon, I was told, was of 
common occurrence. It would be singular if the attractive 
force of these two islands should thus manifest itself even in 
the atmosphere. 

This conversation excited again the question I had so 
often asked myself : whether I ought to give up all idea of 
visiting Malta. The difficulties and dangers, however, 
which had been already well considered, remained the same ; 
and we, therefore, resolved to engage our vetturino to take 
us to Messina. 

But, in the mean time, a strange and peculiar whim was to 
determine our future movements. For instance, in my 
travels through Sicily, I had as yet seen but few districts 
rich in corn : moreover, the horizon had everywhere been 
confined by nearer or remoter lines of hills, so that the island 
appeared to be utterly devoid of level plains, and I found it 
impossible to conceive why Ceres had so highly favored this 
island. As I sought for information on this point, I was 
answered, that, in order to see this, I ought, instead of going 
to Syracuse, to travel across the island, in which case I should 
see cornfields in abundance. We followed this temptation 
of giving up Syracuse, especially as I was well aware that of 
this once glorious city scarcely any thing but its splendid 
name remained. And, at any rate, it was easy to visit it 
from Catania. 

Caltanisetta, 
Saturday, April 28, 1787. 

At last we are able to understand how Sicil}' gained the 
honorable title of the Granary of Italy. Shortly after leav- 
ing Girgenti, the fertile district commenced. It does not 
consist of a single great plain, but of the sides of mountains 
and hills, gently inclined towards each other, everywhere 
planted with wheat or barley, which present to the eye an 
unbroken mass of vegetation. Every spot of earth suited to 
these crops is so put to use and so jealously looked after, 
that not a tree is anywhere to be seen. Indeed, the little 
villages and farm-houses all lie on the ridges of the hills, 
where a row of limestone rocks (which often appear on 
the surface) renders the ground unfit for tillage. Here the 
women reside throughout the year, busily employed in spin- 



324 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

ning and weaving ; but the men, while the work in the fields 
is going on, spend only Saturday and Sunday at home, stay- 
ing away at their work during the other days, and spending 
their nights under temporary straw sheds. 

And so our wish was gratified — even to satiety. We almost 
wished for the winged car of Triptolemus to escape from the 
monotony of the scene. 

After a long drive under the hot sun, through this wilder- 
ness of fertility, we were glad enough when, at last, we 
reached the well-situated and well-built Caltanisetta ; where, 
however, we had again to look in vain for a tolerable inn. 
The mules are housed in fine vaulted stables ; the grooms 
sleep on the heaps of clover which are intended for the 
animals' food ; but the stranger has to look out for and to 
prepare his own lodging. If, by chance, he can hire a room, 
it has first of all to be swept out and cleaned. Stools or 
chairs, there are none ; the only seats to be had are low little 
forms of hard wood ; tables are not to be thought of. 

If you wish to convert these forms into a bedstead, you 
must send to a joiner, and hire as many planks as you want. 
The large leathern bag, which Hackert lent me, was of good 
use now, and was, by way of anticipation, filled with cut 
straw. 

But, above all things, provision must be made for your 
meals. On our road we had bought a fowl : our vetturino 
ran off to purchase some rice, salt, and spice. As, however, 
he had never been here before, he was for a long time in a 
perplexit}' for a place to cook our meal in, as in the post-house 
itself there was no possibility of doing it. At last an old 
man of the town agreed for a fair recompense to provide us 
with a hearth, together with fuel, and cooking and table 
utensils. While our dinner was cooking, he undertook to 
guide us round the town, and finally to the market-house, 
where the principal inhabitants, after the ancient fashion, 
met to talk together, and also to hear what we or other 
strangers might say. 

We were obliged to talk to them of Frederick the Second ; 
and their interest in this great king was such that we thought 
it advisable to keep back the fact of his death, lest our being 
the bearers of such untoward news should render us unwel- 
come to our hosts. 

Geology by way of an appendix ! From Girgenti, the mus- 
chelkalk rocks. There also appeared a streak of whitish earth, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 325 

which afterwards we accounted for. The older limestone 
formation again occurs, with gypsum lying immediately upon 
it. Broad flat valleys, cultivated almost up to the top of the 
hillside and often quite over it, the older limestone mixed 
with crumbled gypsum. After this appears a looser, yellow- 
ish, easily crumbling, limestone : in the arable fields you dis- 
tinctly recognize its color, which often passes into darker, 
indeed occasionally violet, shades. About half-way the gyp- 
sum again recurs. On it you see growing, in many places, 
sedum, of a beautiful violet, almost rosy red ; and on the 
limestone rocks, moss of a beautiful yellow. 

The former crumbling limestone often shows itself ; but 
most prominently in the neighborhood of Caltanisetta, where 
it lies in strata, containing a few fossils : there its appearance 
is reddish, almost of a vermilion tint, with little of the violet 
hue which we formerly observed near San Martino. 

Pebbles of quartz I only observed at a spot about half-way 
on our journey, in a valley which, shut in on three sides, is 
open towards the east, and consequently also towards the sea. 

On the left, the high mountain in the distance, near Came- 
rata, was remarkable, as also was another, looking like a 
propped up cone. For the greatest half of the way not a tree 
was to be seen. The crops looked glorious, though they were 
not so high as they were in the neighborhood of Girgenti and 
near the coast ; however, as clean as possible. In the fields 
of corn, which stretched farther than the eye could reach, not 
a weed to be seen. At first we saw nothing but green fields ; 
then some ploughed lands ; and lastly, in the moister spots, 
little patches of wheat, close to Girgenti. We saw apples 
and pears everywhere else ; on the heights, and in the vicinity 
of a few little villages, some fig-trees. 

These thirty miles, together with all that I could distinguish 
either on the right or left of us, was limestone of earlier or 
later formations, with gypsum here and there. It is to the 
crumbling and elaboration of these three together by the 
atmosphere that this district is indebted for its fertility. It 
must contain but very little sand, for it scarcely grates 
between the teeth. A conjecture with regard to the river 
Achates must wait for the morrow to confirm it. 

The valleys have a pretty form ; and although they are not 
flat, still one does not observe any trace of rain gullies, — 
merely a few brooks, scarcely noticeable, ripple along them, 
for all of them flow direct to the sea. But little of the wd 
clover is to be seen ; the dwarf palm also disappears here, as 



326 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

well as all the other flowers and shrubs of the south-western 
side of the island. The thistles are permitted to take pos- 
session of nothing but the waysides : every other spot is 
sacred to Ceres. Moreover, this region has a great simi- 
larity to the hilly and fertile parts of Germany, — for in- 
stance, the tract between Erfurt and Gotha, — especially 
when you look out for points of resemblance. Very many 
things must combine in order to make Sicily one of the most 
fertile regions of the world. 

On our whole tour we have seen but few horses : plough- 
ing is carried on with oxen, and a law exists which forbids 
the killing of cows and calves. Goats, asses, and mules we 
met in abundance. The horses are mostly dapple-gray, with 
black feet and manes. The stables are very splendid, with 
well-paved and vaulted stalls. For beans and flax the land 
is dressed with dung : the other crops are then grown after 
this early one has been gathered in. Green barle}- in the 
ear, done up in bundles, and red clover in like fashion, are 
offered for sale to the traveller as he goes along. 

On the hill above Caltanisetta I found a hard limestone 
with fossils : the larger shells lay lowermost, the smaller 
above them. In the pavement of this little town, we noticed 
a limestone with pectinites. 

Behind Caltanisetta the hill subsided suddenly into many 
little valleys, all of which pour their streams into the river 
Salso. The soil here is reddish and very loamy, much of it 
un worked : what was in cultivation bore tolerably good crops, 
though inferior to what we had seen elsewhere. 

Castro GiovANxr, 
Sunday, April 29, 1787. 

To-day we had to observe still greater fertility, and want of 
population. Heavy rains had fallen, which made travelling 
any thing but pleasant, as we had to pass through many 
streams which were swollen and rapid. At the Salso, where 
one looks round in vain for a bridge, I was struck with a very 
singular arrangement for passing the ford. Strong, powerful 
men were waiting at the river-side. Of these, two placed 
themselves on each side of a mule, and conducted him, rider, 
baggage, and all, through the deep part of the river, till they 
reach a great bank of gravel in the middle : when the whole 
of the travellers have arrived at this spot, they are again 
conducted in the same manner through the second arm of the 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 327 

stream ; while the fellows, by pushing and shoving, keep the 
animal in the right track, and support him against the current. 

On the water-side I observed bushes, which, however, do 
not spread far into the land. The Salso washes down rub- 
bles of granite, — a transition of the gneiss, — and jjnarble, 
both breccian and also of a single color. 

We now saw before us the isolated mountain ridge on 
which Castro Giovanni is situate, and which imparts to the 
country about it a grave and singular character. As we rode 
up the long road which traverses its side, we found that the 
rock consisted of muschelkalk ; large calcined shells being 
huddled together in heaps. You do not see Castro Giovanni 
until you reach the very summit of the ridge, for it lies on 
the northern declivity of the mountain. The singular little 
town, with its tower, and the village of Caltaseibetta, at a 
little distance on the left, stand, as it were, solemnly gazing 
at eaeli other. In the plains we saw the bean in full blossom ; 
but who is there that could take pleasure in such a sight? 
The roads here were horrible, and the more so because they 
once were paved, and it rained incessantly. The ancient 
Enna received us most inhospitably, — a room with a paved 
floor, witli shutters and no window, so that we had either to 
sit in darkness or be again exposed to the beating rain, from 
which we had thought to escape by putting up here. We ate 
some remnants of our travelling provisions, and passed a 
most miserable night. We made a solemn vow never to 
direct our course again towards never so mythological a 
name. 

Monday, April P>0, 1787. 

The road leading from Castro Giovanni was so rough and 
bad. that we were obliged to lead our horses down it. The 
sky before us was covered with thick and low clouds, while 
high above them a singular phenomenon was observable. It 
was striped white and gray, and seemed to be something 
corporeal; but how could aught corporeal get into the sky? 
Our guide enlightened us. This subject of our amazement 
was a side of Mount TEtna, which appeared through the 
opening clouds. Snow alternating with the crags formed the 
stripes : it was not, however, the highest peak that we saw. 

The precipitous rock, on which ancient Enna was situated, 
lay behind us ; and we drove through long, long, lonely 
valleys: there they lay, uncultivated and uninhabited, aban- 
doned to the browsing cattle, which we observed were of a 



328 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

beautiful brown color, not large, short-horned, clean-limbed, 
lank and lively as deer. These poor cattle had pasturage 
enough : but it was greatly encroached upon, and in some 
parts wholly taken possession of, by the thistles. These 
plants Jiave here the finest opportunities to disperse their 
seed and to propagate their kind : they take up an incredible 
space, which would make pasture-land enough for two large 
estates. As the}' are not perennial, they might, if mowed 
down before flowering, be easily eradicated. 

However, after having thus seriously meditated an agri- 
cultural campaign against the thistles, I must, to my shame, 
admit they are not altogether useless. At a lonely farm- 
house where we pulled up to bait, there were also stopping- 
two Sicilian noblemen, who, on account of some law-suit, 
were riding straight across the country to Palermo. With 
amazement we saw both of these grave personages standing 
before a patch of these thistles, and with their pocket-knives 
cutting off the tops of the tall shoots. Then holding their 
prickly booty by the tips of their fingers, they peeled off the 
rind, and devoured the inner part with great satisfaction. 
In this way they occupied themselves a considerable time, 
while we were refreshing ourselves with wine (this time it 
was unmixed) and bread. The vetturino prepared for us 
some of this marrow of thistle-stalks, and assured us that 
it was a wholesome, cooling food : it suited our taste, how- 
ever, as little as the raw cabbage at Segeste. 

On the Road, April 30, 1787. 

Having reached the valley through which the rivulet of 
St. Pacio winds it way, we found the district consisting of a 
reddish-black and crumbly limestone, many brooks, a very 
white soil, — a beautiful A'allev, which the rivulet made ex- 
tremely agreeable. The well-compounded, loamy soil is in 
some places twenty feet deep, and for the most part of simi- 
lar quality throughout. The crops looked beautiful ; but 
some of them were not very clean, and all of them very 
backward as compared with those on the southern side. 
Here there are the same little dwellings, and not a tree, 
as was the case immediately after leaving Castro Giovanni. 
On the banks of the river, plenty of pasture-land, but sadly 
confined by vast masses of thistles. In the gravel of the 
river we again found quartz, both simple and breccian. 

Molimenti, quite a new village, wisely built in the centre 
of beautiful iields, and on the banks of the rivulet St. Paolo. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 329 

The wheat in its neighborhood was unrivalled : it will be 
ready for cutting as early as by the 20th of May. In the 
whole district I could not discover as 3-et a trace of volcanic 
influence : even the stream brings down no pebbles of that 
character. The soil is well mixed, heavy rather than light, 
and has, on the whole, a coffee-brown and slightly violet hue. 
All the hills on the left, which enclose the stream, are lime- 
stone, whose varieties I had no opportunity of observing. 
They, however, as they crumble under the influence of the 
weather, are evidently the causes of the great fertility that 
marks the district throughout. 

Tuesday, May 1, 1787. 

Through a valley, which, although by nature it was through- 
out alike destined to fertility, was unequally cultivated, we 
rode along very moodily because, among so many prominent 
and irregular shapes, not one appeared to suit our artistic 
designs. Kniep had sketched a highly interesting outline ; 
but because the foreground and intermediate space were 
thoroughly revolting, he had with a pleasant joke appended 
to it a foreground of Poussin's, which cost him nothing. 
However, they made together a very pretty picture. How 
many "picturesque tours," in all probability, contain half- 
truths of the like kind. 

Our courier, with the view of soothing our grumbling 
humor, promised us a good inn for the evening. And, in 
fact, he brought us to a hotel which had been built but a 
few 3'ears since, on the roadside, and, being at a consider- 
able distance from Catania, cannot but be right welcome to 
all travellers. For our part, finding ourselves, after twelve 
days of discomfort, in a tolerable apartment, we were right 
glad to be so much at our ease again. But we were sur- 
prised at an inscription pencilled on the wall in beautiful 
English characters. The following was its purport : " Trav- 
eller, whoever you may be, be on your guard against the inn 
known in Catania by the sign of the Golden Lion. It is 
better to fall into the claws of all the Cyclops, Sirens, and 
Scylla together than to go there." Although we at once 
supposed that the well-meaning counsellor had, no doubt, by 
his mythological figures magnified the danger, we neverthe- 
less determined to keep out of the reach of the " Golden 
Lion," which was thus proclaimed to us to be so savage a 
beast. When, therefore, our muleteer demanded of us 
where we would wish to put up in Catania, we answered, any 



330 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

where but at the "Golden Lion!" Whereupon he ven- 
tured to recommend us to stop where he put up his beasts, 
only he said we should have to provide for ourselves just as 
we had hitherto done. 

Towards Hybla Major, pebbles of lava present them- 
selves, which the stream brings down from the north. Over 
the ferry you find limestone, which contains all sorts of 
rubble, hornstone, lava, and calx ; and then hardened vol- 
canic ashes, covered over with calcareous tufa. The hills 
of mixed gravel continue till you come near to Catania, at 
and beyond which place you find the lava flux from ^Etna. 
You leave on the left what looks like a crater. (Just under 
Moliinenti the peasants were pulling up the flax.) Nature 
loves a motley garb ; and here you may see how she con- 
trives gayly to deck out the dark bluish-gray lava of the 
mountains. A few seasons bring over it a moss of a high 
yellow color, upon which a beautiful red sedum grows 
luxuriantly, and some other lovely violet flowers. The 
plantations of cactus and the vine-rows bespeak a careful 
cultivation. Now immense streams of lava begin to hem us 
in. Motta is a beautiful and striking rock. The be'ans are 
like very high shrubs. The fields vary very much in their 
geological features, — now very gravelly, now better mixed. 

The vetturino, who probably had not for a long time seen 
the vegetation of the south-eastern side of the island, burst 
into loud exclamations about the beauty of the crops, and 
with self-complaisant patriotism demanded of us if we ever 
saw such in our own country. Here, however, every thing 
is sacrificed to them : you see few if any trees. But the 
sight that most pleased us was a young girl, of a splendid 
but slight form, who, evidently an old acquaintance, kept 
up with the mule of our vetturino, chatting the while, and 
spinning away with as much elegance as was possible. 

Now yellow tints begin to predominate in the flowers. 
Towards Misterbianco the cactuses are again found in the 
hedges ; but hedges entirely of this strangely grown plant 
become, as you approach Catania, more and more general, 
and are even still more beautiful. 

Catania, May 2, 1787. 
Ill our quarters we found ourselves, we must confess, 
most uncomfortable. The meal, such as our muleteer could 
alone furnish, was none of the best. A fowl stewed in rice 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 331 

would have been tolerable, but for an immoderate spice of 
saffron, which made it both yellow and unpalatable. The 
most abominable of bad beds had almost driven me a second 
time to bring out Ilackert's leathern bag, and we therefore 
next morning spoke on this subject to our obliging host. 
He expressed his regret that it was not in his power to pro- 
vide better for us ; " but," he said, " there is, above there, 
a house where strangers are well entertained, and have every 
reason to be satisfied." 

Saying this, he pointed to a large corner house, of which 
the part that was turned towards us seemed to promise well. 
We immediately hurried over to it, and found a very active 
personage, who declared himself to be a waiter, and who, 
in the absence of the landlord, showed us an excellent bed- 
room, with a sitting-room adjoining, and assured us, at the 
same time, that we should be well attended to. Without 
delay, we demanded, according to our practice, what was the 
charge for dinner, for wine, for luncheon, and other particu- 
lars. The answers were all fair; and we hastily had our 
trifles brought over to the house, and arranged them in the 
spacious and gilded buffets. For the first time since we left 
Palermo, Kniep found an opportunity to spread out his 
portfolio, and to arrange his drawings, as I did my notes. 
Then, delighted with our fine room, we stepped out on the 
balcony of the sitting-room to enjoy the view. When we had 
done looking at and extolling the prospect, we turned to 
enter our apartment, and commence our occupations, when, 
lo ! over our head was a large golden lion, regarding us with 
a most threatening aspect. Quite serious we looked for a 
moment into one another's faces, then smiled, and laughed 
outright. From this moment, however, we began to look 
around us to see whether we could discover any of these 
Homeric goblins. 

Nothing of the kind was to be seen. On the contrary, 
we found in the sitting-room a pretty young woman, who 
was playing about with a child, from two to three years old, 
who stood suddenly still on being hastily scolded by the vice- 
landlord. "You must take yourself off!" he testily ex- 
claimed : " you have no business here." " It is veiy hard," 
she rejoined, tk that you drive me away : the child is scarcely 
to be pacified in the house when you are away ; and the 
signori will allow me, at least while you are present, to keep 
the child quiet." The husband made no reply, but pro- 
ceeded to drive her away : at the door the child cried most 



332 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

miserably, and at last we did most heartily wish that the 
pretty young madam had staid. 

Warned Iry the Englishman, it was no art to see through 
the comedy : we played the Neulinge, the Uhschuldige ; he. 
however, with his very loving paternal feelings, prevailed 
very well. The child, in fact, was evidently very fond of 
him ; and probably the seeming mother had pinched him at 
the door to make him cry so. 

And so, too, with the greatest innocence possible she came 
and staid with him as the man went out to deliver for us a 
letter of introduction to the domestic chaplain of Prince 
Biscari. She played and toyed with the child till he came 
back, bringing word from the abbe that he would come him- 
self, and talk with us on the matter. 

Catania, 
Thursday, May 3, 1787. 

The abbe, who had come last night and paid his respects 
to us, appeared this morning in good time, and conducted us 
to the palace, which is of one story, and built on a tolerably 
high socle. First of all we visited the museum, where there 
is a large collection of marble and bronze figures, vases, and 
all sorts of such like antiques. Here we had once more an 
opportunity of enlarging our knowledge ; and the trunk of a 
Jupiter, with which I was already acquainted through a cast 
in Tischbein's studio, particularly ravished me. It possesses 
merits far higher than I am able to estimate. An inmate of 
the house gave us all necessary historical information. After 
this we passed into a spacious and lofty saloon. The many 
chairs around and against the walls indicated that a numer- 
ous company was often assembled here. We seated our- 
selves in hope of a favorable reception. Soon afterwards 
two ladies entered, and walked several times up and down 
the room. From time to time they spoke to each other. 
When they observed us, the abbe rose : I did the same ; and 
we both bowed. I asked, "Who are they?" and learned 
that the younger was the daughter of the prince, but the 
elder a noble lady of Catania. We resumed our seats, while 
they continued to walk up and down as people do in a mar- 
ket-place. 

We were now conducted to the prince, who (as I had been 
already given to understand) honored me with a singular 
mark of his confidence in showing me his collection of coins, 
since, by such acts of kindness, both his father and himself 
had lost many a rare specimen ; and so his general good 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 333 

nature, and wish to oblige, had been naturally much con- 
tracted. On this occasion I probably appeared a little better 
informed than formerly, for I had learned something from 
the examination of Prince Torremuzza's collection. I again 
contrived to enlarge my knowledge, being greatly helped by 
Winckelmann's never failing clews, which safely led the way 
through all the different epochs of art. The prince, who 
was well informed in all these matters, when he saw that he 
had before him not a connoisseur, but an attentive amateur, 
willingly informed me of every particular that I found it 
necessary to ask about. 

After having given to these matters considerable time, but 
still far less than they deserved, we were on the point of 
taking our leave, when the prince conducted us to the prin- 
cess, his mother, in whose apartments the smaller works of 
art are to be seen. 

"We found a venerable, naturally noble lady, who received 
us with the words, " Pray, look round my room, gentlemen : 
here you still see all that my late husband collected and 
arranged for me. This I owe to the affection of my son, 
who not only allows me still to reside in his best room, but 
has even forbidden the least thing to be taken away or 
removed that his late father purchased for me and chose a 
place for. Thus I enjoy a double pleasure : not only have I 
been able these many years to live in my usual ways and 
habits, but have also, as formerly, the opportunity to see 
and form the acquaintance of those worthy strangers who 
come hither from widely distant places to examine our treas- 
ures." 

She thereupon, with her own hands, opened for us the 
glass case in which the works in amber were preserved. 
Sicilian amber is distinguished from the northern by its pass- 
ing from the transparent and non-transparent — from the; 
wax and the honey-colored — through all possible shades of 
a deej) yellow, to the most beautiful hyacinthian red. In the 
case there were urns, cups, and other things, for executing 
which, large pieces of a marvellous size must have been ne- 
cessary : for such objects, and also for cut shells such as 
are executed at Trapani, and also for exquisitely manu- 
factured articles in ivory, the princess had an especial taste, 
and about some of them she had amusing stories to tell. 
The prince called our attention to those of more solid value ; 
and so several hours slipped away ; not, however, without 
either amusement or edilication. 



334 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

In the course of our conversation, the princess discovered 
that we were Germans : she therefore asked us after Riede- 
sel, Bartels, and Miinter, all of whom she knew, and whose 
several characters she seemed well able to appreciate and to 
discriminate. We parted from her reluctantly ; and she, too, 
seemed loath to bid us farewell. An insular life has in it 
something very peculiar to be thus excited and refreshed by 
none but passing sympathies. 

From the palace the abbe led us to the Benedictine Mon- 
astery, and took us to the cell of a brother of the order, 
whose reserved and melancholy expression (though he was 
not of more than middle age) promised but little of cheer- 
ful conversation. He was, however, the skilful musician 
who alone could manage the enormous organ in the church 
of this monastery. When he had rather guessed than waited 
to hear our request, he complied with it in silence. We pro- 
ceeded to the very spacious church, where, sitting down at 
the glorious instrument, he made the softest notes whisper 
through its remotest corners, or filled the whole of it with the 
crash of the loudest tones. 

If you had not previously seen the organist, }'ou would 
fancy that none but a giant could exercise such power : as, 
however, we were already acquainted with his personal ap- 
pearance, we only wondered that the necessary exertion had 
not long since worn him out. 

Soon after dinner our abbe arrived with a carriage, and 
proposed to show us a distant part of the city. Upon get- 
ting in we had a strange dispute about precedence. Having 
entered first, I had seated myself on the left-hand side. As 
he ascended, he begged of me to move, and to take the right- 
hand seat. I begged him not to stand on such ceremony. 
" Pardon me," he replied, tc and let us sit as I propose ; for. 
if I take my place on your right, eveiybod}' will believe that 
I am taking a ride with you ; but if I sit on yoxw left, it is 
thereby indicated that }'ou are riding with me. — that is, with 
him who has, in the prince's name, to show you the city." 
To this nothing could, of course, be objected ; and it was 
settled accordingly. 

We drove up the streets where the lava, which in 1G99 
destroyed a great part of this city, remains visible to this 
day. The solid lava had been worked like an}' other rock : 
streets had even been marked out on its surface, and 
partly built. I placed under the seat of our carriage an un- 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 335 

doubted specimen of the molten rock, remembering, that just 
before my departure from Germany the dispute had arisen 
about the volcanic origin of basalt. And I did so in many 
other places, in order to have several varieties. 

However, if natives had not proved themselves the friends 
of their own land, — had they not even labored, either for the 
sake of profit or of science, to bring together whatever is 
remarkable in this neighborhood, — the traveller would have 
had to trouble himself long and to little purpose. In Na- 
ples I had received much information from the lava dealer, 
but still more information got I here from the Chevalier Gio- 
eni. In his rich and excellently arranged museum I learned 
more or less correctly to recognize the various phenomena of 
the lava of JEtna : the basalt at its foot, stones in a changed 
state, — every thing, in fact, was pointed out to me in the 
most friendly manner. What I saw to be wondered at most 
were some zeolites from the rugged rocks which rise out of 
the sea below Jaci. 

As we inquired of the chevalier which was the best course 
to take in order to ascend ^Etna, he would not hear of so 
dangerous an attempt as trying to reach the summit, espe- 
cially in the present season of the year. " Generally," he 
observed, begging my pardon, however, " the strangers who 
come here think far too lightly of the matter : we, however, 
who are neighbors of the mountain, are quite contented if, 
twice in our life, we hit on a very good opportunity to reach 
the summit. Brydone, who was the first to kindle by his de- 
scription a desire to see this fiery peak, did not himself ascend 
it. Count Borch leaves his readers in uncertainty ; but, in 
fact, even he ascended only to a certain height : and the 
same may be said of many others. At present the snow 
comes down far too low, and presents insuperable obstacles. 
If you would take my advice, you will ride very early some 
morning for Monte Rosso, and be contented with ascending 
this height. From it you will enjoy a splendid view of 
.Etna, and at the same time have an opportunity of observ- 
ing the old lava, which, bursting out from that point in 1697, 
unhappily poured down upon the city. The view is glorious 
and distinct : it is best to listen to a description for all the 
rest." 

Catania, 

Friday, May 4, 1787. 

Following this good counsel, we set out early on a mule ; 
and, continually looking behind us on our way, reached at 



336 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

last the region of the lava, as yet unchanged by time. 
Jagged lumps and slabs stared us in the face, among which 
a chance road had been tracked out by the beasts. We 
halted on the first considerable eminence. Kniep sketched 
with wonderful precision what lay before us. The masses 
of lava in the fore-ground, the double peak of Monte Rosso 
on the left, right before us the woods of Nicolosi, out of 
which rose the snow-capped and slightly smoking summit. 
We drew near to the Red Mountain. I ascended it. It is 
composed entirely of red volcanic rubbish, ashes, and stones, 
heaped together. It would have been very easy to go round 
the mouth of the crater, had not a violent and stormy east 
wind made my footing unsteady. When I wished to go a 
little way, I was obliged to take off my cloak ; and then my 
hat was every moment in danger of being blown into the 
crater, and I after it. On this account I sat down in order 
to recover myself, and to take a view of the surrounding ob- 
jects ; but even this position did not help me at all. The 
wind came direct from the east, over the glorious land, which 
far and near, and reaching to the sea, lay below me. The 
outstretched strand, from Messina to Syracuse, with its bays 
and headlands, was before my eyes, either quite open, or else 
(though only in a few small points) covered with rocks. 
When I came down quite numbed, Kniep, under the shelter 
of the hill, had passed his time well, and with a few light 
lines on the paper had perpetuated the memory of what the 
wild storm had allowed me scarcely to see, and still less to 
fix permanently in my mind. 

Returned once more to the jaws of the Golden Lion, we 
found the waiter, whom we had with difficulty prevented from 
accompanying us. He praised our prudence in giving up the 
thought of visiting the summit, but urgently recommended 
for the next day a walk by the sea to the rocks of Jaci, — it 
was the most delightful pleasure-trip that could be made 
from Catania ; but it would be well to take something to eat 
and drink with us, and also utensils for warming our viands. 
His wife offered herself to perform this duty. Moreover, he 
spoke of the jubilee there was when some Englishmen hired a 
boat, with a band of music to accompany them, which 
made it more delightful than it was possible to form any 
idea of. 

The rocks of Jaci had a strong attraction for me : I had a 
strong desire to knock off from them as fine zeolites as I had 
seen in Gioeni's possession. It was true we might reduce 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 337 

the scale of the affair, and decline the attendance of the 
wife ; but the warning of the Englishman prevailed over 
every other consideration. We gave up all thoughts of zeo- 
lites, and prided ourselves not a little on this act of self- 
denial. 

Catania, 
Saturday, May 5, 1787. 

Our clerical companion has not failed us to-day. He con- 
ducted us to some remains of ancient architecture ; in exam- 
ining which, however, the visitor needs to bring with him no 
ordinary talent of restoration. We saw the remains of the 
great cisterns of a naumachy, and other similar ruins, which, 
however, have been tilled up and depressed through the many 
successive destructions of the city by lava, earthquakes, and 
wars. It is only those who are most accurately acquainted 
with the architecture of the ancients that can now derive 
either pleasure or instruction from seeing them. 

The kind abbe engaged to make our excuses for not wait- 
ing again on the prince, and we parted with lively expres- 
sions of mutual gratitude and good will. 

Taormina, 
Sunday, May (5, 1787. 

God be thanked that all that we have here seen this day 
has been already amply described, but still more, that Kniep 
has resolved to spend the whole of to-morrow in the open 
air, taking sketches. When you have ascended to the top 
of the wall of rocks which rise precipitously at no great 
distance from the sea, 3 t ou find two peaks, connected by a 
semicircle. Whatever shape this may have had originally 
from Nature, has been helped by the hand of man, which has 
formed out of it an amphitheatre for spectators. Walls and 
other buildings have furnished the necessary passages and 
rooms. Right across, at the foot of the semicircular range 
of seats, the scene was built ; and by this means the two 
rocks were joined, and thus a most enormous work of nature 
and art was complete. 

Now, sitting down at the spot where formerly sat the up- 
permost spectators, you confess at once that never did audi- 
ence, in any theatre, have before them such a spectacle as 
you there behold. On the right, and on high rocks at the 
side, castles tower in the air : farther on, the city lies below 
you ; and although its buildings are all of modern date, still, 
similar ones, no doubt, stood of old on the same site. After 



338 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

this the eye falls on the whole of the long ridge of iEtna ; 
then on the left it catches a view of the seashore, as far as 
Catania, and even Syracuse ; and then the wide and exten- 
sive view is closed Iry the immense smoking volcano, but 
not horribly, for the atmosphere, with its softening effect, 
makes it look more distant and milder than it really is. 

If now you turn from this view towards the passage run- 
ning at the back of the spectators, you have on the left the 
whole wall of the rocks between which and the sea runs 
the road to Messina. And then, again, you behold vast 
groups of rocky ridges in the sea itself, with the coast of 
Calabria in the far distance, which only a fixed and atentive 
gaze can distinguish from the clouds rising rapidly from it. 

We descended towards the theatre, and tarried a while 
among its ruins, on which an accomplished architect would 
do well to employ, at least on paper, his talent of restoration. 
After this I attempted to make a way for myself through the 
gardens to the city. But I soon learned by experience what 
an impenetrable bulwark is formed by a hedge of agaves 
planted close together. You can see through their interla- 
cing leaves, and you think, therefore, it will be easy to force 
a way through them ; but the prickles on their leaves are 
very sensible obstacles. If you step on these colossal leaves, 
in the hope that they will bear } T ou, they break off suddenly ; 
and so, instead of getting out, you fall into the arms of the 
next plant. When, however, at last we had wound our way 
out of the labyrinth, we found but little to enjo} T in the city ; 
though from the neighboring country we felt it impossible to 
part before sunset. Infinitely beautiful was it to observe 
how this countryside, of which every point had its interest, 
was gradually enveloped in darkness. 

Below Taormina: on the seashore, 
Monday, May 7, 1787. 

Kniep, whom, by good luck, I brought with me hither, can- 
not be praised enough for relieving me of a burden which 
would have been intolerable to me, and which goes directly 
counter to my nature. He has gone to sketch in detail the 
objects of which lie took a general survey yesterday. He 
will have to point his pencil many a time, and I know not 
when he will have finished. I shall have it in my power to 
see all these sights again. At first I wished to ascend the 
height with him ; but then, again, I was tempted to remain 
here. I sought a corner like the bird about to build its nest. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 339 

In a sorry and neglected peasant's garden, I have seated my- 
self on the trunk of an orange-tree, and lost myself in reve- 
ries. Orange-branches on which a traveller can sit, sounds 
rather strangely ; but seems quite natural when one knows 
that the orange-tree, left to nature, sends out, at a little dis- 
tance from the root, twigs which in time become decided 
branches. 

And so, thinking over again the plan of the " Nausicaa," I 
formed the idea of a dramatic concentration of the " Odys- 
sey." I think the scheme is not impracticable, only it will 
be indispensable to keep clearly in view the difference of the 
drama and the epopee. 

Kniep has come down, quite happy and delighted, and has 
brought back with him two large sheets of drawing-paper, 
covered with the clearest outlines. Both will contribute*) pre- 
serve in my mind a perpetual memory of these glorious days. 

It must not be left unrecorded, that on this shore, and 
beneath the clearest sky, we looked around us, from a little 
balcony, and saw roses, and heard the nightingales. These 
we are told sing here during at least six months of the twelve. 

From Memory. 

The activit}' of the clever artist who accompanies me, and 
my own more desultory and feeble efforts, having now assured 
me the possession of well-selected sketches of the country 
and its most remarkable points (wdiich, either in outline, or, 
if I like, in well-finished paintings, will be mine forever), 
I yielded all the more to an impulse which has been daily 
growing in strength. I have felt an irresistible impulse to 
animate the glorious scenes by which I am surrounded, — 
the sea, the island, the heavens, — with appropriate poetical 
beings, and here, in and out of this locality, to finish a com- 
position in a tone and spirit such as I have not yet produced. 
The clear sky, the smell of the sea, the halo which merges, 
as it were, into one, the sky, the headlands, and the sea, — 
all these afforded nourishment to my purpose ; and whilst I 
wandered in those beautiful gardens, between blossoming 
hedges of oleander, and through arbors of fruit-bearing 
orange and citron trees, and between other trees and 
shrubs which were unknown to me, I felt the strange 
influence in the most agreeable way possible. 

Convinced that for me there could be no better commentary 
on the "Odyssey" than even this very neighborhood, I 
purchased a copy, and read it, after my own fashion, with 



840 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

incredible interest. But I was also excited by it to produce 
something of my own, which, strange as it seemed at the first 
look, became dearer and dearer, and at last took entire pos- 
session of me. For I entertained the idea of treating the 
story of Nausicaa as the subject of a tragedy. 

It is impossible for me even to say what I should have been 
able to make of it, but I had quite settled the plan in m}- 
mind. The leading idea was to paint Nausicaa as an amia- 
ble and excellent maiden who, wooed by many suitors, but 
conscious of no preference, coldly rejected all advances, but 
falling in love with a remarkable stranger, suddenly alters 
her conduct, and compromises herself by an over-hasty 
avowal of her affection, and consequently gives rise to a 
truly tragic situation. This simple fable might, I thought, 
be rerMered highly interesting by an abundance of subordi- 
nate motives, and especially by the naval and insular charac- 
ter of the locality, and of the personages where and among 
whom the scene would be laid, and by the peculiar tone it 
would thence assume. 

The first act began with the game at ball. The unexpected 
acquaintance is made : the scruple to lead him herself into 
the city is already the harbinger of her love. 

The second act unfolds the characters of the household 
of Alcinous, and of the suitors, and ends with the arrival of 
Ulysses. 

The third is devoted entirely to exhibiting the greatness 
and merits of the new-comer ; and I hoped to be able, in the 
course of the dialogue (which was to bring out the history 
of his adventures) , to produce a truly artistic and agreeable 
effect by representing the various ways in which this story 
was received by his several hearers. During the narrative, 
the passions were to be heightened, and Nausicaa' s lively 
sympathy with the stranger to be thrown out more and more 
by conflicting feelings. 

In the fourth act, Ulysses (off the scene) gives convincing 
proofs of his valor; while the women remain, and give full 
scope to their likings, their hopes, and all other tender emo- 
tions. The high favor in which the stranger stands with all, 
makes it impossible for Nausicaa to restrain her own feelings, 
and she thus becomes irreparably compromised with her own 
people. Ulysses, who, partly innocent, partly to blame, is 
the cause of all this, now announces his intention to depart ; 
and nothing remains for the unhappy Nausicaa, but in the 
fifth act to seek for an end of existence. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 341 

In this composition there was nothing but what I would 
have been able to depict from nature after my own experi- 
ence. Even while travelling — even in peril — to excite fa- 
vorable feelings, which, although they did not end tragically, 
might yet prove painful enough, and perhaps dangerous, and 
would, at all events, leave deep wounds behind ; even the 
supposed accidents of describing in lively colors, for the 
entertainment of others, objects observed at a great distance 
from home, travelling adventurers and chances of life ; to 
be looked upon try the young as a demigod, but by the more 
sedate as a talker of rhodomontade, and to meet now with 
unexpected favor, and now with unexpected rebuffs, — all 
tli is caused me to feel so great an attachment to this plan, 
that, in thinking of it, I dreamed away all the time of my stay 
at Palermo, and, indeed, of all the rest of my Sicilian tour. 
Jt was this that made me care little for all the inconvenience 
and discomfort I met with ; for, on this classic ground, a 
poetic vein had taken possession of me, causing all I saw, 
experienced, or observed, to be taken and regarded in a 
joyous mood. 

After my usual habit, good or bad, I wrote down little or 
nothing of the play ; but worked in my mind most of it with 
all the minutest detail. And there, in my mind, pushed out 
of thought by many subsequent distractions, it has remained 
until this moment, when, however, I can recollect nothing 
but a very faint idea of it. 

Tuesday, May 8, 1787. 
On the road to Messina. 

High limestone rocks on the left. They become more 
deeply colored as you advance, and form many beautiful 
caves. Presently there commences a sort of rock which 
may be called clay slate, or sandstone (graywacke). In 
the brooks you now meet pebbles of granite. The yellow 
apples of the solanum, the red flowers of the oleander, give 
beauty to the landscape. The little stream of Nisi brings 
down with it mica-pebbles, as do also all the streams we 
reached afterwards. 

Wednesday, May 9, 1787. 

Beaten by a stormy east wind, we rode between the raging 

sea on the right, and the wall of rocks from the top of 

which we were looking down yesterday ; but this day we 

have been continually at war with the water. We had to 



342 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

cross innumerable brooks, of which the largest bears the 
honorable title of river. However, these streams, as well 
as the gravel which they bring down with them, were easier 
to buffet with than the sea, which was raging violently, and 
at many places dashed right over the road, against the rocks, 
which threw back the thick spray on the travellers. It was 
a glorious sight, and its rarity made us quite ready to put 
up with all its inconvenience. 

At the same time there was no lack of objects for the 
mineralogical observer. Enormous masses of limestone, un- 
dermined by the wind and waves, fall from time to time : 
the softer particles are worn awa} T by the continual motion 
of the waves, while the harder substances imbedded in them 
are left behind ; and so the whole strand is strewed with 
variegated flints verging on the hornstone. I selected and 
carried off many a specimen. 

Thursday, May'lO, 1787. 
And so at last we arrived in Messina, where, as we knew 
of no lodging, we made up our minds to pass the first night 
at the quarters of our vetturino, and look out for a more 
comfortable habitation in the morning. In consequence of 
this resolution, our first entrance gave us the terrible idea 
of entering a ruined city ; for, during a whole quarter of 
an hour as we rode along, we passed ruin after ruin, before 
we reached the auberge, which, being the only new building 
that has sprung up in this quarter, opens to you from its 
first-story window a view of nothing but a rugged waste of 
ruins. Beyond the circle of the stable-yard not a living 
being of any kind was to be seen. During the night the 
stillness was frightful. The doors would neither bolt nor 
even close. There was no more provision here for the enter- 
tainment of human guests than at an} T other of the similar 
posting-stations : however, we slept very comfortably on 
a mattress which our vetturino took away from beneath the 
very body of our host. 

Friday, May 11, 1787. 
To-day our worthy muleteer left us, and a good largesse 
rewarded him for his attentive services. We parted very 
amicably, after he had first procured us a servant to take 
us at once to the best inn in the place, and afterwards to 
show us whatever was at all remarkable in Messina. Our 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 343 

first host, in order that his wish to get rid of us might be 
gratified as quickly as possible, helped to carry our boxes 
and other packages to a pleasant lodging nearer to the in- 
habited portion of the city, — that is to say, beyond the city 
itself. The following description will give some idea of it. 
The terrible calamity which visited Messina, and swept away 
twelve thousand of its inhabitants, did not leave behind it 
a single dwelling for the thirty thousand who survived. 
Most of the houses were entirely thrown down : the cracked 
and shaking walls of the others made them quite unsafe to 
live in. On the extensive meads, therefore, to the north 
of Messina, a city of planks was hastily erected, of which 
any one will quickly form an idea who has ever seen the 
Romerberg at Frankfort during the fair, or passed through 
the market-place at Leipzig ; for all the retail houses and 
work-shops are open towards the street, and the chief busi- 
ness is carried on in front of them. Therefore, there are 
but few of the larger houses even that are particularly w T ell 
closed against publicity. Thus they have been living for 
three years ; and the habits engendered by such booth-like, 
hut-like, and, indeed, tent-like dwellings, has had a decided 
influence on the character of the occupants. The horror 
caused by this unparalleled event, the dread of its recur- 
rence, impels them with light-hearted cheerfulness to enjoy 
to the utmost the passing moment. A dreadful expectation 
of a fresh calamity was excited on the 21st of April — only 
twenty days ago, that is — by an earthquake which again 
sensibly shook the ground. We were shown a small church 
where a multitude of people were crowded together at the 
very moment, and perceived the trembling. Some persons 
who were present at the time do not appear even yet to have 
recovered from their fright. 

In seeking out and visiting these spots, we were accom- 
panied by a friendly consul, who spontaneously put himself 
to much trouble on our account, — a kindness to be grate- 
fully acknowledged in this wilderness more than in any other 
place. At the same time, having learned that we were soon 
about to leave, he informed us that a French merchantman 
was on the point of sailing for Naples. The news was 
doubly welcome, as the flag of France is a protection against 
the pirates. 

We made our kind cicerone aware of our desire to ex- 
amine the inside of one of the larger (though still one-sto- 
ried) huts, and to see their plain and extemporized economy. 



344 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

Just at this moment we were joined by an agreeable person, 
who presently described himself to be a teacher of French. 
After finishing our walk, the consul made known to him our 
wish to look at one of these buildings, and requested him 
to take us home with him and show us his. 

We entered the hut, of which the sides and roof consisted 
alike of planks. The impression it left on the e}*e was 
exactly that of one of the booths in a fair, where wild beasts 
or other curiosities are exhibited. The timber-work of the 
walls and the roof was quite open. A green curtain divided 
off the front room, which was not covered with deals, but 
the natural floor was left just as in a tent. There were 
some chairs and a table, but no other article of domestic 
furniture. The space was lighted from above by the open- 
ings which had been accidentally left in the roofing. We 
stood talking together for some time, while I contemplated 
the green curtain, and the roof within, which was visible over 
it, when all of a sudden, from the other side of the curtain, 
two lovely girls' heads, black-eyed and black-haired, peeped 
over, full of curiosity, but vanished again as soon as they 
saw they were perceived. However, upon being asked for 
by the consul, after the lapse of just so much time as was 
necessaiy to adorn themselves, the}' came forward, and with 
their well-dressed and neat little bodies crept before the 
green tapestry. From their questions we clearly perceived 
that the) 7 looked upon us as fabulous beings from another 
world, in which most amiable delusion our answers must 
have gone far to confirm them. The consul gave a merry 
description of our singular appearance : the conversation 
was so very agreeable, that we found it hard to part with 
them. Not until we had got out of the door, it occurred 
to us that we had not seen the inner rooms, and, being 
entirely taken up with its fair inhabitants, had forgotten all 
about the construction of the house. 

Messina, 
Saturday, May 12, 1787. 

Among other things, we were told by the consul, that 
although it was not indispensably necessary, still it would 
be as well to pay our respects to the governor, a strange old 
man, who, by his humors and prejudices, might as readily 
injure as benefit us : that it always told in his (the consul's) 
favor if he introduced distinguished personages to the gov- 
ernor ; and besides, no stranger arriving here can tell whether 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 345 

some time or other he may not somehow or other require the 
assistance of this personage. So, to please my friend, I 
went with him. 

As we entered the ante-chamber, we heard in the inner 
room a most horrible hubbub. A footman, with a very 
punch-like expression of countenance, whispered in the con- 
sul's ear, "An ill da}' — a dangerous moment!" How- 
ever, we entered, and found the governor, a very old man, 
sitting at a table near the window, with his back turned 
towards us. Large piles of old discolored letters were lying 
before him, from which, with the greatest sedateness, he 
went on cutting out the unwritten portion of the paper, — 
thus giving pretty strong proofs of his love of economy. 
During this peaceful occupation, however, he was fearfully 
rating and cursing away at a respectable-looking personage, 
who, to judge from his costume, was probably connected 
with Malta, and who, with great coolness and precision of 
manner, was defending himself, for which, however, he was 
afforded but little opportunity. Though thus rated and 
scolded, he yet with great self-possession endeavored, by 
appealing to his passport and to his well-known connections 
in Naples, to remove a suspicion which the governor, as it 
would appear, had formed against him as coming and going 
without any apparent business. All this, however, was of 
no use: the governor went* on cutting his old letters, and 
carefully separating the clean paper, and scolding all the 
while. 

Besides ourselves, there were about twelve other persons in 
the room, spectators of the bull-baiting, standing hovering in 
a very wide circle, and apparently envying us our proximity 
to the door as a desirable position, should the passionate old 
man seize his crutch, and strike away right and left. During 
this scene our good consul's face had lengthened considera- 
bly : for my part, my courage was kept up by the grimaces 
of a footman, who, though just outside the door, was close 
to me, and, as often as I turned round, made the drollest 
gestures to appease my alarm, by indicating that all this did 
not matter much. 

And indeed the awful affair was quickly brought to an end. 
The old man suddenly closed it with observing that there 
was nothing to prevent him clapping the Maltese in prison, 
and letting him cool his heels in a cell. However, he would 
pass it over this time : he might stay in Messina the few 
days he had spoken of, but after that he must pack off, 



346 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

and never show his face there again. Very coolly, and with- 
out the slightest change of countenance, the object of sus- 
picion took his leave, gracefully saluting the assembly, and 
ourselves in particular, as he passed through the crowd to 
get to the door. As the governor turned round tiercel} 7 , in- 
tending to add }~et another menace, he caught sight of us, 
and immediately recovering himself, nodded to the consul, 
upon which he stepped forward to introduce me. 

The governor was a person of very great age : his head 
bent forward on his chest, while from beneath his gray 
shaggy brows, black sunken eyes cast forth stealthy glances. 
Now, however, he was quite different from what he had been 
a few moments before. He begged me to be seated ; and 
still uninterruptedly pursuing his occupation, asked me many 
questions, which I duly answered, and concluded by inviting 
me to dine with him as long as I should remain here. The 
consul, as well satisfied as myself, nay, even more so, since 
he knew better than I the danger we had escaped, made 
haste to descend the stairs ; and, for my part, I had no de- 
sire ever again to approach the lion's den. 

Messina, 
Sunday, May 13, 1787. 

Waking this morning, we found ourselves in a much more 
pleasant apartment, and with the sun shining brightly, but 
still in poor, afflicted Messina. Singularly unpleasant is the 
view of the so-called Palazzata, a crescent-shaped row of 
real palaces, which for nearly a quarter of a league encloses 
and marks out the roadstead. All were built of stone, and 
four stories high. Of several, the whole front, up to the cor- 
nice of the roof, is still standing, while others have been 
thrown down as low as the first, or second, or third story ; 
so that this once splendid line of buildings exhibits at 
present with its many chasms and perforations, a strangely 
revolting appearance, for the blue heaven may be seen 
through almost every window. The interior apartments in 
all are utterly destroyed and fallen. 

One cause of this singular phenomenon is the fact, that the 
splendid architectural edifices erected by the rich tempted 
their less wealthy neighbors to vie with them, in appearance 
at least, and to hide, behind a new front of cut stone, the old 
houses, which had been built of larger and smaller rubble- 
stones, kneaded together and consolidated with plenty of 
mortar. This joining, not much to be trusted at any time, 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 347 

was quickly loosened and dissolved by the terrible earth- 
quake. The whole fell together. Among the many singular 
instances of wonderful preservation which occurred in this 
calamity, they tell the following : the owner of one of these 
houses had, exactly at the awful moment, entered the recess 
of a window, while the whole house fell together behind him ; 
and there, suspended aloft, but safe, he calmly awaited the 
moment of his liberation from his airy prison. That this 
style of building, which was adopted in consequence of there 
not being any quarries in the neighborhood, was the principal 
cause why the ruin of the city was so total as it was, is 
proved by the fact that the houses which were of a more 
solid masonry are still standing. The Jesuits' College and 
Church, which are solidly built of cut stone, are still standing 
uninjured, with their original substantial fabric unimpaired. 
But whatever may be the cause, the appearance of Messina 
is most oppressive, and reminds one of the times when the 
Sicani and Sieuli abandoned this restless and treacherous 
district, to occupy the western coast of the island. 

After passing the morning in viewing these ruins, we 
entered our inn to take a frugal meal. We were still sitting 
at table, feeling quite comfortable, when the consul's servant 
rushed breathless into the room, declaring that the governor 
had been looking for me all over the city : he had invited 
me to dinner, and yet I was absent. The consul earnestly 
entreated me to go immediately, whether I had dined or not, 
— whether I had allowed the hour to pass through forgetf ill- 
ness or design. I now felt, for the first time, how childish 
and silly it was to allow my joy at my first escape to banish 
all further recollection of the Cyclop' s invitation. The ser- 
vant did not let me loiter : his representations were most 
urgent and most direct to the point ; if I did not go the con- 
sul would be in danger of suffering all that this furious des- 
pot might choose to inflict upon him and his countrymen. 

Whilst I was arranging my hair and dress, I took courage, 
and, with a lighter heart, followed, invoking Ulysses as my 
patron saint, and begging him to intercede in my behalf with 
Pallas Athene. 

Arrived at the lion's den, I was conducted by a tine foot- 
man into a large dining-room, where about forty people were 
sitting at an oval table, without, however, a word being 
spoken. The place on the governor's right was unoccupied, 
and to it was I conducted accordingly. 

Having saluted the host and his guests with a low bow, I 



348 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

took my seat by his side, excused my delay by the vast size 
of the city, and by the mistakes which the unusual way of 
reckoning the time had so often caused me to make. With 
a fiery look, he replied, that if a person visited foreign 
countries, he ought to make a point to learn its customs, and 
to guide his movements accordingly. To this I answered, 
that such was invariably my endeavor, only I had found that, 
in a strange locality, and amidst totally new circumstances, 
one invariably fell at first, even with the very best intentions, 
into errors which might appear unpardonable, but for the 
kindness which readily accepted in excuse for them the plea 
of the fatigue of travelling, the distraction of new objects, 
the necessity of providing for one's bodily comforts, and, 
indeed, of preparing for one's further travels. 

Hereupon he asked me how long I thought of remaining. 
I answered that I should like, if it were possible, to stay 
here for a considerable period, in order to have the opportu- 
nity of attesting, by my close attention to his orders and 
commands, my gratitude for the favor he had shown me. 
After a pause he inquired what I had seen in Messina? I 
detailed to him my morning's occupation, with some remarks 
on what I had seen, adding that what most had struck me 
was the cleanliness and good order in the streets of this 
devastated city. And, in fact, it was highly admirable to 
observe how all the streets had been cleared by throwing the 
rubbish among the fallen fortifications, and by piling up 
the stones against the houses, by which means the middle 
of the streets had been made perfectly free and open for trade 
and traffic. And this gave me an opportunity to pay a well- 
deserved compliment to his excellency, by observing that all 
the Messinese thankfully acknowledged that they owed this 
convenience entirely to his care and forethought. " They 
acknowledge it, do they," he growled : " well, every one at 
first complained loudly enough of the hardship of being com- 
pelled to take his share of the necessary labor." I made 
some general remarks upon the wise intentions and loft} T de- 
signs of government being only slowly understood and 
appreciated, and on similar topics. He asked if I had seen 
the Church of the Jesuits ; and when I said no, he rejoined 
that he would cause it to be shown to me in all its splendor. 

During this conversation, which was interrupted with a 
few pauses, the rest of the company, 1 observed, maintained 
a deep silence, scarcely moving except so far as was abso- 
lutely necessary in order to place the food in their mouths. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 349 

And so, too, when dinner was over, and coffee served, they 
stood round the walls like so many wax dolls. I went up to 
the chaplain, who was to show me the church, and began to 
thank him in advance for the trouble. However, he moved 
off, after humbly assuring me that the command of his ex- 
cellency was in his eyes all-sufficient. Upon this I turned to 
a young stranger who stood near, who, however, Frenchman 
as he was, did not seem to be at all at his ease ; for he, too, 
seemed to be struck dumb and petrified, like the rest of the 
company, among whom I recognized many faces who had 
been any thing but willing witnesses of yesterday's scene. 

The governor moved to a distance ; and, after a little while, 
the chaplain observed to me that it was time to be going. I 
followed him : the rest of the company had silently one by 
one disappeared. He led me to the gate of the Jesuits' 
Church, which rises in the air with all the splendor and really 
imposing effect of the architecture of these fathers. A 
porter came immediately towards us, and invited us to enter ; 
but the priest held me back, observing that we must wait for 
the governor. The latter presently arrived in his carriage, 
and, stopping in the piazza, not far from the church, nodded 
to us to approach, whereupon all three advanced towards 
him. He gave the porter to understand that it was his com- 
mand that he should not only show me the church and all its 
parts, but should also tell me in full the histories of the 
several altars and chapels ; and, moreover, that he should 
open to me all the sacrists, and show me their remarkable 
contents. I was a person to whom he was to show all honor, 
and who must have every cause to speak well and honorably 
of Messina on his return home. "Fail not," he then said, 
turning to me with as much of a smile as his features were 
capable of, — " Fail not as long as you are here to be at my 
dinner-table in good time. You shall always find a hearty 
welcome." I had scarcely time to make him a most respect- 
ful reply before the carriage moved on. 

From this moment the chaplain became more cheerful, 
and we entered the church. The castellan (for so we may 
well name him) of this fairy palace, so little suited to the 
worship of God, set to work to fulfil the duty so sharply 
enjoined to him, when Kniep and the consul rushed into the 
empty sanctuary, and gave vent to passionate expressions 
of their joy at seeing me again, and at liberty, who, they 
had believed, would by this time have been in safe custody. 
They had sat in agonies until the roguish footman (whom 



350 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

probably the consul had well-feed) came and related with a 
hundred grimaces, the issue of the affair ; upon which ex- 
cessive joy took possession of them, and they at once set 
out to seek me, as their informant had made known to them 
the governor's kind intentions with regard to the church, 
and thereby gave them a hope of finding me. 

We now stood before the high altar, listening to the enu- 
meration of the ancient rarities with which it was inlaid : 
pillars of lapis lazuli fluted, as it were, with bronzed and 
with gilded rods ; pilasters and panellings after the Floren- 
tine fashion ; gorgeous Sicilian agates in abundance ; with 
bronze and gilding perpetually recurring and joining the whole. 

And now commenced a wondrous counterpointed fugue. 
Kniep and the consul, dilating on the perplexities of the late 
incident, and the showman, enumerating the costly articles 
of the well-preserved splendor, broke in alternately, both 
fully possessed with their subject. This afforded a two-fold 
gratification. I became sensible how lucky was my escape, 
and at the same time had the pleasure of seeing the produc- 
tions of the Sicilian mountains, on which, in their native 
state, I had already bestowed attention, here worked up and 
employed for architectural purposes. 

My accurate acquaintance with the several elements of 
which this splendor was composed, helped me to discover 
that what was called lapis lazuli in these columns was proba- 
bly nothing but calcara, though calcara of a more beautiful 
color than I remember to have ever seen, and withal most 
incomparably pieced together. But even such as they are, 
these pillars are still most highly to be prized ; for it is evi- 
dent that an immense quantit}* of this material must have 
been collected before so many pieces of such beautiful and 
similar tints could be selected ; and, in the next place, con- 
siderable pains and labor must have been expended in cut- 
ting, splitting, and polishing the stone. But what task was 
ever too great for the industry of these fathers ? 

During my inspection of these rarities, the consul never 
ceased enlightening me on the danger with which I had 
been menaced. The governor, he said, not at all pleased, 
that, on my very first introduction to him, I should have 
been a spectator of his violence towards the quasi Maltese, 
had resolved, within himself, to pay me especial attention ; 
and, with this view, he had settled in his own mind a regular 
plan, which, however, had received a considerable check 
from my absence at the very moment in which it was first 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 351 

to be carried into effect. After waiting a long while, the 
despot at last sat down to dinner, without, however, being 
able to conceal his vexation and annoyance, so that the com- 
pany were in dread lest they should witness a scene either 
on my arrival or on our rising from table. 

Every now and then the sacristan managed to put in a 
word, opened the secret chambers, which are built in beauti- 
ful proportion, and elegantly, not to sa} r splendidly, orna- 
mented. In them were to be seen all the moveable furniture 
and costly utensils of the church still remaining, and these 
corresponded in shape and decoration with all the rest. Of 
the precious metals I observed nothing, and just as little 
of genuine works of art, whether ancient or modern. 

Our mixed Italian-German fugue (for the good father and 
the sacristan chaunted in the former tongue, while Kniep 
and the consul responded in the latter) came to an end just 
as we were joined by an officer whom I remembered to 
have seen at the dinner-table. He belonged to the gov- 
ernor's suite. His appearance was certainly calculated to 
excite anxiety, and not the less so as he offered to conduct 
me to the harbor, where he would take me to certain parts 
which generally were inaccessible to strangers. M} r friends 
looked at one another : however, I did not let myself be 
deterred by their suspicions from going alone with him. 
After some talk about indifferent matters, I began to ad- 
dress him more familiarly, and confessed that during dinner 
I had observed many of the silent party making friendly 
signs to me, and giving me to understand that I was not 
among mere strangers and men of the world, but among 
friends, and, indeed, brothers ; and that, therefore, I had 
nothing to fear. I felt it a duty to thank and to request him 
to be the bearer of similar expressions of gratitude to the 
rest of the company. To all this he replied, that they had 
sought to calm any apprehensions I might have felt, be- 
cause, well acquainted as they were with the character of 
their host, they were convinced that there was really no 
cause for alarm : for explosions like that with the Maltese 
were but very rare ; and when they did happen, the worthy 
old man always blamed himself afterwards, and would for 
a long time keep watch over his temper, and go on for a 
while in the calm and assured performance of his duty, 
until at last some unexpected rencontre would surprise and 
carry him away by a fresh outbreak of passion. 

My valiant friend further added, that nothing was more 



352 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

desired by him and his companions than to bind themselves 
to me by a still closer tie ; and therefore he begged that I 
would have the great kindness of letting them know where 
it might be done this evening, most conveniently to nryself. 
I courteously declined the proffered honor, and begged him 
to humor a whim of mine, which made me wish to be looked 
upon during my travels merely as a man : if as such I could 
excite the confidence and sympathy of others, it would be 
most agreeable to me, and what I wished most ; but that 
various reasons forbade me to form other connections. 

Convince him I could not, for I did not venture to tell 
him what was really my motive. However, it struck me as 
remarkable, that, under so despotic a government, these kind- 
hearted persons should have formed so excellent and so in- 
nocent a union for mutual protection, and for the benefit 
of strangers. I did not conceal from him the fact, that I 
was well aware of the ties subsisting between them and other 
German travellers, and expatiated at length on the praise- 
worthy objects they had in view, and so only caused him 
to feel still more surprise at my obstinacy. He tried every 
possible inducement to draw me out of my incognito. How- 
ever, he did not succeed, partly because, having just escaped 
one danger, I was not inclined for any object whatever to 
run into another ; and partly because I was well aware that 
the views of these worthy islanders were so very different 
from my own, that any closer intimacy with them could lead 
to neither pleasure nor comfort. 

On the other hand, I willingly spent a few hours with our 
well-wishing and active consul, w T ho now enlightened us r as 
to the scene with the Maltese. The latter was not really a 
mere adventurer : still, he was a restless person, who was 
never happy in one place. The governor, who was of a 
great family, and highly honored for his sincerity and hab'ts 
of business, and also greatly esteemed for his former im- 
portant services, was, nevertheless, notorious for his iUim li- 
able self-will, his unbridled passion, and unbending obstina [:.• 
Suspicious, both as an old man and a tyrant, more anxieis 
lest he should have, than convinced that he really had, ene- 
mies at court, he looked upon as spies, and hated, all perse Is 
who, like this Maltese, were continually coining and going, 
without any ostensible business. This time the red cloak 
had crossed him, when, after a considerable period of quiet, 
it was necessary for him to give vent to his passion, in order 
to relieve his mind. 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 353 

"Written partly at Messina, and tartly at Sea. 
Monday, May 14, 1787. 

Both Kniep and myself awoke with the same feelings : 
both felt annoyed that we had allowed ourselves, under the 
first impression of disgust which the desolate appearance 
of Messina had excited, to form the hasty determination of 
leaving it with the French merchantman. The happy issue 
of my adventure with the governor, the acquaintance which 
I had formed with certain worthy individuals, and which it 
only remained for me to render more intimate, and a visit I 
had paid to my banker, whose country-house was situated 
in a most delightful spot, — all this afforded a prospect of our 
being able to spend most agreeably a still longer time in 
Messina. Kniep, quite taken up with two pretty little chil- 
dren, wished for nothing more than that the adverse wind, 
which in any other case would be disagreeable enough, 
might still last for some time. Meanwhile, however, our 
position was disagreeable enough : all had to remain packed 
up, and we ourselves to be ready for starting at a moment's 
warning. 

And so, at last, about mid-day the summons came ; and 
we hastened on board, and found among the crowd collected 
on the shore our worthy consul, from whom we took our leave 
with many thanks. The sallow footman, also, pressed for- 
ward to receive his douceur. He was accordingly duly 
rewarded, and charged to mention to his master the fact of 
our departure, and excuse our absence from dinner. "He 
who sails away is at once excused," exclaimed he ; and then 
turning round with a very singular spring, quickly disappeared. 

in the ship itself things looked very different from what 
they had done in the Neapolitan corvette. However, as we 
gradually stood off from the shore, we were quite taken up 
with the glorious view presented b/ the circular line of the 
P lazzata, the citadel, and by the mountains which rose 
bi nincl the city. Calabria was on the other side. And then 
tl wide prospect northwards and southwards over the straits, 
— a broad expanse indeed, but still shut in on both sides by 
a beautiful shore. While we were admiring these objects, 
O' 3 after another, our attention was diverted to a certain 
commotion in the water, at a tolerable distance on the left 
hand, and still nearer on the right, to a rock distinctly sepa- 
rate from the shore. The}' were Scylla and Charybdis. 
These remarkable objects, which in nature stand so wide 
apart, but which the poet has brought so close together, have 



354 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

furnished occasion to many to make grave complaints of the 
fabling of poetry. Such grumblers, however, do not duly 
consider that the imaginative faculty invariably depicts the 
objects it would represent as grand and impressive, with a 
few striking touches rather than in fulness of detail, and 
that thereb}' it lends to the image more of character, solem- 
nity, and dignity. A thousand times have I heard the com- 
plaint that the objects for a knowledge of which we are origin- 
ally indebted to description, invariably disappoint us when 
we see them with our own eyes. The cause is, in every case, 
the same. Imagination and reality stand in the same relation 
to each other as poetry and prose do : the former invariably 
conceives of its objects as powerful and elevated, the latter 
loves to dilate and expand them. A comparison of the land- 
scape painters of the 16th century with those of our own 
day will strikingly illustrate my meaning. A drawing of 
Iodocus Momper, by the side of one of Kniep's outlines, 
would at once make the contrast intelligible. 

With such and similar discourses we contrived to amuse 
ourselves ; as the coasts were not attractive enough even for 
Kniep, notwithstanding his having prepared every thing 
for sketching. 

As to myself, however, I was again attacked with sea- 
sickness ; but this time the unpleasant feeling was not 
relieved by separation and privacy, as it was on our passage 
over. However, the cabin was large enough to hold several 
persons, and there was no lack of good mattresses. I again 
resumed the horizontal position, in which I was diligently 
tended by Kniep, who administered to me plenty of red wine 
and good bread. In this position our Sicilian expedition pre- 
sented itself to my mind in no very agreeable light. On the 
whole, we had really seen nothing but traces of the utterly 
vain struggle which the human race makes to maintain itself 
against the violence of Nature, against the malicious spite of 
Time, and against the rancor of its own unhappy divisions. 
The Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the many 
other races which followed in succession, built and destroyed. 
Selinus lies methodically overthrown by art and skill ; two 
thousand years have not sufficed to throw down the temples 
of Girgenti ; a few hours — nay, a few minutes — were suffi- 
cient to overwhelm Catania and Messina. These sea-sick 
fancies, however, I did not allow to take possession of a 
mind tossed up and down on the waves of life. 



LETTERS FKOM ITALY. 355 

At Sea, 
Tuesday, May 15, 1787. 

My hope of having a quicker passage back to Naples, or at 
least of recovering sooner from my sea-sickness, has been 
disappointed. Several times I attempted, at Kniep's recom- 
mendation, to go up on deck : however, all enjoyment of the 
varying beauty of the scene was denied me. Only one or 
two incidents had power to make me forget a while my gid- 
diness. The whole sky was overcast with a thin, vapory 
cloud, through which the sun (whose disk, however, was not 
discernible) illuminated the sea, which was of the most beau- 
tiful blue color that ever was seen. A troop of dolphins 
accompanied the ship : swimming or leaping they managed 
to keep up with it. I could not help fancying, that in the 
deep water, and at the distance, our floating edifice must 
have seemed to them a black point, and that they had hurried 
towards it as to a welcome piece of booty and consumption. 
However that may be, the sailors did not treat them as kind 
guides, but rather as enemies : one was hit with a harpoon, 
but not hauled on deck. 

The wind continued unfavorable ; and, by continually tack- 
ing and manoeuvring, we only just managed not to lose way. 
Our impatience at this only increased when some experienced 
persons among the passengers declared that neither the cap- 
tain nor the steersman understood their business. The one 
might do very well as captain, and the other as a mariner : 
they were, however, not fit to be trusted with the lives of so 
many passengers and such a valuable freight. 

I begged these otherwise most doughty personages to keep 
their fears to themselves. The number of passengers was 
very great, and among them were several women and children 
of all ages ; for every one had crowded on board the French 
merchantman, without a thought of any thing but of the 
protection from the pirates which the white flag assured to 
them. I therefore represented to these parties that the 
expression of their distrust and anxiety would plunge in the 
greatest alarm those poor folks who had hitherto placed all 
their hopes of safety in the piece of uncolored and unem- 
blazoned linen. 

And in reality, between sky and sea this white streamer, 
as a decided talisman, is singular enough. As parting friends 
greet each other with their white waving handkerchiefs, and 
so excite in their bosoms a mutual feeling — which nothing 
else could call forth — of love and affection divided for a 



856 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

while, so here in this simple flag the custom is consecrated. 
It is even as if one had fixed a handkerchief on the mast to 
proclaim to all the world, " Here comes a friend from across 
the sea. 

Revived from time to time with a little wine and bread, to 
the annoyance of the captain, who said that I sought to eat 
what was bargained for, I was able at last to sit on deck, 
and occasionally take part in the conversation. Kniep man- 
aged to cheer me, for he could not this time, by boasting of 
the excellent fare, excite my energy : on the contrary, he 
was obliged to extol my good luck in having no appetite. 

Wednesday, May 10, and Thursday, May 17, 1787. 
And thus mid-day passed without our being able, as we 
wished, to get into the Bay of Naples. On the contrary, we 
were continually driven more and more to the west ; and our 
vessel, nearing the island of Capri, kept getting farther from 
Cape Minerva. Every one was annoyed and impatient : we 
two, however, who could contemplate the world with a 
painter's eye, had enough to content us, when the setting sun 
presented for our enjoyment the most beautiful prospect that 
we had yet witnessed during our whole tour. Cape Minerva, 
with the mountains which abut on it, lay before our eyes 
in the brilliant coloring of sunset ; while the rocks wdiich 
stretched southwards from the headland had already assumed 
a bluish tint. The wdiole coast, stretching from the cape to 
Sorrento, was gloriously lit up. Vesuvius was visible : an 
immense cloud of smoke stood above it like a tower, and sent 
out a long streak southwards, — the result, probably, of a 
violent eruption. On the left lay Capri, rising perpendicularly 
in the air ; and, by the help of the transparent blue halo, we. 
were able distinctly to trace the forms of its rocky walls. Be- 
neath a perfectly clear and cloudless sky, glittered the calm, 
scarcely rippling sea, which at last, when the wind died 
away, lay before us exactly like a clear pool. We were 
enraptured with the sight. Kniep regretted that all the colors 
of art were inadequate to convey an idea of this harmony, 
and that not even the finest of English pencils would enable 
the most practised hand to give the delicacy of the outline. 
I, for my part, convinced that to possess even a far poorer 
memorial of the scene than this clever artist could produce, 
would greatly contribute to my future enjoyment, exhorted 
him to strain both his hand and eye for the last time. He 
allowed himself to be persuaded, and produced a most 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 357 

accurate drawing (which he afterwards colored) ; and so 
bequeathed to me a proof, that to truly artistic powers of 
delineation, the impossible becomes the possible. With 
equally attentive e}'es we watched the transition from even- 
ing to night, Capri now lay quite black before us ; and, to 
our astonishment, the smoke of Vesuvius turned into flame, 
as, indeed, did the whole streak, which, the longer we 
observed it, became brighter and brighter. At last we saw 
a considerable region of the atmosphere, forming, as it were, 
the back ground of our natural picture, lit up, and, indeed, 
lightening. 

We were so entirely occupied with these welcome scenes, 
that we did not notice that we were in great danger. How- 
ever, the commotion among the passengers did not allow us 
to continue long in ignorance of it. Those who were better 
acquainted with maritime affairs than ourselves were bittterly 
reproaching the captain and his steersman. By their bun- 
gling, they said, they had not only missed the mouth of the 
straits, but they were very nigh losing the lives of all the 
passengers intrusted to them, cargo and all. We inquired 
into the grounds of these apprehensions, especially as we 
could not conceive how, during a perfect calm, there could 
be any cause for alarm. But it was this very calm that 
rendered these people so inconsolable. " We are," they 
said, u in the current which runs round the island, and 
which, by a slow but irresistible ground-swell, will draw us 
against the rugged rocks, where there is neither the slightest 
footing, nor the least cove to save ourselves by. 

Made more attentive by these declarations, we contem- 
plated our fate with horror. For, although the deepening 
night did not allow us to distinguish the approach of danger, 
still we observed that the ship, as it rolled and pitched, was 
gradually nearing the rocks, which grew darker and darker 
upon the eye, while a light evening glow was still playing on 
the water. Not the slightest movement was to be discerned 
in the air. Handkerchiefs and light ribbons were constantly 
being held up, but not the slightest indication of the much 
desired breath of wind was discernible. The tumult became 
every moment louder and wilder. The women with their 
children were on deck praying, not indeed on their knees, for 
there was scarcely room for them to move, but lying close 
pressed one upon another. Every now and then, too, they 
would rate and scold the captain more harshly and more bit- 
terly than the men, who were calmer, thinking over every 



358 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

chance of helping and saving the vessel, They reproached 
him with every thing, which, during the passage up to this 
point, had been borne with silence, — the bad accommoda- 
tion ; the high passage-money ; the scant}' bill of fare ; his 
own manners, which, if not absolutely surly, were cer- 
tainly forbidding enough. He would not give an account of 
his proceedings to any one : indeed, ever since the evening 
before he had maintained a most obstinate silence as to his 
plans, and what he was doing with his vessel. He and the 
steersman were called mere money-making adventurers, who, 
having no knowledge at all of navigation, had managed to 
buy a packet with a mere view to profit, and now. by their 
incapacity and bungling, were on the point of losing all that 
had been intrusted to their care. The captain, however, 
maintained his usual silence under all these reproaches, and 
appeared to be giving all his thoughts to the chances of sav- 
ing his ship. As for myself, since I had always felt a greater 
horror of anarchy than of death itself, I found it quite im- 
possible to hold my tongue any longer. I went up to the 
noisy railers, and addressed them with almost as much com- 
posure of mind as the rogues of Malsesine. I represented to 
them, that, by their shrieking and bawling, they must con- 
found both the ears and the brains of those on whom all at 
this moment depended for our safety, so that they could 
neither think nor communicate with one another. All you 
have to do, I said, is to calm yourselves, and then to offer up 
a fervent prayer to the Mother of God, asking her to inter- 
cede with her blessed Son to do for you what he did for his 
apostles when on Lake Tiberias. The waves broke over the 
boat while the Lord slept, but who, when, helpless and incon- 
solable, they awoke him, commanded the winds to be still, 
and who, if it is only his heavenly will, can even now com- 
mand the winds to rise. 

These few words had the best effect. One of the men with 
whom I had previously had some conversation on moral and 
religious subjects, exclaimed, " Ah, il Balarme! Benedetto il 
Balarme! " and they actually began, as they were already 
prostrate on their knees, to go over their rosaries with more 
than usual fervor.. They were able to do this with the greater 
calmness, as the sailors were now trying an expedient, the 
object of which was, at any rate, apparent to every eye. 
The boat (which would not, however, hold more than six or 
eight men) was let down, and fastened by a long rope to the 
ship, which, by dint of hard rowing, they hoped to be able to 



LETTERS FROM ITALY. 359 

tow after them. And, indeed, it was thought that they did 
move it within the current ; and hopes began to be entertained 
of soon seeing the vessel towed entirely out of it. But 
whether their efforts increased the counter-action of the 
current, or whatever it was, the boat with its crew at the 
end of the hawser was suddenly drawn in a kind of a bow 
towards the vessel, forming with the long rope a kind of 
bow, — or just like the lash of a whip when the driver gives 
a blow with it. This plan, therefore, was soon given up. 
Prayer now began to alternate with weeping, — for our state 
began to appear alarming indeed, — when from the deck we 
could clearly distinguish the voices of the goatherds (whose 
fires on the rocks we had long seen) , crying to one another, 
" There is a vessel stranding below." They also said some- 
thing else, but the sounds were unintelligible to me : those, 
however, who understood their patois, interpreted them as 
exclamations of joy, to think of the rich booty they would 
reap in the morning. Thus the doubt we had entertained 
whether the ship was actually nearing the rocks, and in any 
immediate danger, was unfortunately too soon dispelled ; and 
we saw the sailors preparing boat-poles and fenders, in order, 
should it come to the worst, to be ready to hold the vessel 
off the rocks, — so long, at least, as their poles did not 
break, in which case all would be inevitably lost. The ship 
now rolled more violently than ever, and the breakers seemed 
to increase upon us. And my sickness returning upon me in 
the midst of it all, made me resolve to return to the cabin. 
Half stupefied, I threw myself down on my mattress, still 
with a somewhat pleasant feeling, which seemed to me to 
come over from the sea of Tiberias, for the picture in 
Merian's pictorial Bible kept floating before my mind's eye. 
And so it is : our moral impressions invariably prove strong- 
est in those moments when we are most driven back upon 
ourselves. How long I lay in this sort of half stupor I 
know not, for I was awakened by a great noise overhead : 
I could distinctly make out that it was caused by great ropes 
being dragged along the deck, and this gave me a hope that 
they were going to make use of the sails. A little while 
after this Kniep hurried down into the cabin to tell me that 
we were out of danger, for a gentle breeze had sprung up ; 
that all hands had just been at work in hoisting the sails, and 
that he himself had not hesitated to lend a hand. We were 
visibly getting clear off the rocks ; and, although we were not 
entirely out of the current, there was now good hope of our 



3(30 LETTERS FROM ITALY. 

being able to make way against it. All was now still again 
overhead ; and soon several more of the passengers came 
below to announce the happy turn of affairs, and to lie down. 

When, on the fourth day of our voyage, I awoke early in 
the morning, I found myself quite fresh and well, just as I 
had been at the same period of the passage from Naples ; so 
that on a longer voyage I may hope to get off free, after 
paying to the sea a three days' tribute of sickness. 

From the deck I saw with no little delight the island of 
Capri, at a tolerable distance on our lee, and perceived thai 
the vessel was holding such a course as afforded a hope of 
our being able ere long to enter the gulf, which, indeed, we 
very soon afterwards accomplished. And now, after passing 
a hard night, we had the satisfaction of seeing the same ob- 
jects as had charmed us so greatly the evening before, in a 
reversed light. We soon left this dangerous insular rock far 
behind us. AVhile vesterday we had admired the right hand 
coast from a distance, now we had straight before us the 
castle and the city, with Posilippo on the left, together with 
the tongues of land which run out into the sea towards Procida 
and Ischia. Every one was on deck : foremost among them 
was a Greek priest, enthusiastic in the praises of his own 
dear Fast, but who. when the Neapolitans on board, who 
were rapturously greeting their glorious country, asked him 
what he thought of Naples as compared with Constantinople? 
very pathetically replied, tfc Anche questa e una cittk!" 
(This, too, is a city.) 

We reached the harbor just at the right time, when it was 
thronged with people. No sooner were our trunks and the 
rest of our baggage unshipped and put on shore, when they 
were seized by two lusty porters, who, scarcely giving us 
time to say that we were going to put up at Moriconi's, ran 
off with the load as if with a prize, so that we had difficulty 
in keeping them in view as they darted through the crowded 
streets and bustling piazzas. Kniep kept his portfolio under 
his arm : and we consoled ourselves with thinking that the 
drawings at least were safe, should these porters, less honest 
than the poor Neapolitan devils, strip us of what the breakers 
had spared. 







<<«*s&>fcs *-..~*